Under the hood

Of all the new features in Windows 2000, Active Directory is by far the most talked-about.

“The funny thing is, after that, if you ask people what’s next, they start scratching their heads,” said Neil MacDonald, analyst at Gartner Group. “But you’ve got this whole potpourri of things.”

The Windows 2000 Server will include new features aimed at increasing scalability through further symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) optimization, support for physical memories greater than 4GB and up to 64GB on some systems, clustering enhancements, and sorting for commercial data-warehouse and data-mart applications.

It also has enhanced security features such as a security configuration editor, Kerberos authentication, a public-key certificate server, smart card infrastructure, IP security protocol and an encrypting file system. There are also various new features in the areas of file and print, file system support and storage management, networking and communication servers, and application servers.

On the desktop side, Microsoft claims Windows 2000 Professional will be the “easiest-to-use business desktop yet,” due to improved help and search capabilities, richer error messages and more intuitive configuration wizards. It will include support for laptops via plug-and-play power management, as well as support for DVD and the Universal Serial Bus (USB) devices introduced with Windows 98, such as scanners, printers and mouse products.

The Intellimirror feature is also one that is gaining a lot of attention. It’s a new desktop management feature which consists of Application Distribution, user data synchronization between the client and server, and better distributed application and user policy management.

There are four product categories in the Windows 2000 line — Windows 2000 Professional (the workstation product), Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2000 Advanced Server (formerly the NT 5.0 Enterprise Edition), and the Windows 2000 Datacenter Server. The Datacenter Server is expected to support up to 16-way SMP and up to 64GB of physical memory, depending on the system architecture. It will likely ship a little later than the other Windows 2000 products, according to Dwight Davis, analyst at Boston-based Summit Strategies Inc.