.Net will not influence Windows 2000 plans

IT executives are sticking with their schedules for introducing Windows 2000 and ignoring the impending clash with Microsoft Corp.’s shift in strategy to a Windows-based Internet platform.

Most enterprise customer plans for Win 2000 deployments will be executed over the next 12 to 24 months, according to IT executives and analysts. During that time, however, Microsoft will be entrenched in developing its Internet strategy, called Microsoft.Net, and its new .Net operating system and server lineup.

The contrast means that as enterprise customers are completing rollouts of Win 2000, which Microsoft calls its most important product ever, the software giant will be pushing them toward .Net, its “bet the business” strategy. However, Microsoft has said it will continue to develop an operating system without .Net services.

The intersection of the two strategies could become a tricky crossroads for users.

“Right now we are going ahead with our Windows 2000 rollout as planned,” said Kevin Benson, network and PC support manager for the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism in Columbia, S.C. “We are watching .Net, but from a practical standpoint, I need to see more flesh on the concept so I can evaluate what it means for my enterprise.”

Benson said he will look for Microsoft to evolve Win 2000 into .Net and provide a reasonable migration path. “I’m not worried about getting left out in the cold,” he said.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is already stressing .Net’s relevance for enterprise customers, including better enterprise application integration and desktop-to-data integration. Ballmer also said .Net will facilitate business-to-business integration through tools such as BizTalk Server 2000 and business-to-consumer electronic commerce by simplifying Web sites for end users.

But the fact remains that the taxing upgrade to Win 2000 will be followed or combined with a transition to integrate corporate systems with the Internet. The transition will keep IT executives on their toes because every server and client from Microsoft will get an XML overhaul in the next two years to foster platform-wide integration.

“Maybe that transition is five years down the road for us, but we won’t be changing our current rollout of Windows 2000 to accommodate it,” said Jim DiSantis, IT manager at Delphi Packard Electric in Warren, Ohio. “You can get screwed when you start to look at a platform the size of .Net. When you start to mix and integrate things, you are asking for problems.”

Integration is the hallmark of .Net, not only among Microsoft products, but also with Internet platforms such as Unix and Linux.

Microsoft is encouraging IT executives not to blink on the road to introducing Win 2000. The software giant claims the operating system will eventually mesh with the company’s new focus on the ‘Net.

“Enterprises should keep going on their Windows 2000 deployments because it will take a while for .Net to develop,” said Steve Guggenheimer, director of consumer strategy for Microsoft. “But the servers that enterprises are buying today are on the .Net path. Over time those servers will be updated with XML to interact with Internet services and .Net interfaces.”

Microsoft plans to evolve Win 2000 into Windows.Net early next year. The Win 2000 successor currently in development, will be released next year as Windows. Net 1.0.