Canadian companies prepare for major OS upgrade

Microsoft Corp.’s largest evaluation program ever, featuring more than 600,000 beta tests, has come to a close with Windows 2000’s recent release to manufacturing.

Microsoft expects high adoption rate for Windows 2000 – which promises to hit the shelves on Feb. 17 – because of its Internet enablement, reliability and manageability, said Erik Moll, business Windows product Manager with Microsoft Canada.

“We’ve worked very hard to improve resilience to application failures, we’ve improved the dynamic system configuration capabilities, and we’ve included technologies like load balancing and clustering capabilities,” Moll said.

In anticipation of the release, IDC (Canada) Ltd. surveyed Canadian companies ranging in size from 50 to more than 5,000 PCs, in order to determine key drivers of Windows 2000 adoption in Canada.

Approximately 42 per cent of respondents pointed to server adoption as the driving factor for the OS upgrade, said Dave Marshall, director of Canadian software research for IDC Canada.

“We were trying to find out what was going to lead the way in corporate Canada for (Windows 2000) adoption – were they going to desktop first or server first?”

Desktop activity was close behind servers, with 33 per cent of the respondents saying they would upgrade their desktops first. About 24 per cent responded they would upgrade servers and desktops to Windows 2000 simultaneously, Marshall said.

feature list

The survey also asked which Windows 2000 features were most significant in the upgrade decision.

On the server side, about 68 per cent of those surveyed listed ease of upgradeablity from the NT 4.0 environment as an important factor, and about 61 per cent said the inclusion of new technologies like IntelliMirror was a compelling feature. Also high on the respondents’ list of priorities were quality of service and the availability of directory-enabled computing.

In the desktop environment, ease of upgrade also rated very high at 73 per cent. Other top reasons given for upgrading the desktop included new technology, better security and increased mobile support, Marshall said.

Almost 50 per cent of respondents answered positively to another survey question which asked companies to rate the importance of having an external service provider to assist upgrades to Windows 2000, both at the desktop and server level.

“This indicates that corporate Canada is expecting to use a lot of external service provider support when they are upgrading and adopting the new operating system,” Marshall said.

The survey also examined which types of activities the companies were looking for most when engaging in external services. About 72 per cent of the respondents ranked “incorporating the technology as an activity” as very important and nearly 64 per cent ranked “implementing the technology” as significant. Other activities that rated highly included “designing a solution” and “training and education on the operating system,” Marshall said.

“That indicates that corporate Canada has given a lot of thought to how they want to go about implementing and upgrading their technology.”

dollars and cents

Another goal of the survey was to determine what percentage of IT budgets to be set aside for training and education on new technologies over the next year.

“In the server environment, in terms of the budget, nearly 15 per cent of the budgets were going to be set aside for this activity – representing a fairly high level of the budget for training and education,” Marshall said.

“This indicates to us that companies realize they are going to be going through a major upgrade.”

The survey also showed that a surprisingly high average of 23 per cent of respondents’ IT budget will be devoted to training and education at the desktop level, Marshall said.