Windows Server 2003 completed, survey says adoption slow

Microsoft Corp. on Friday said it has wrapped up the development work on Windows Server 2003 and will ship the operating system on schedule next month. However, a just released survey by the Yankee Group says that only 12 per cent of the current Windows installed base plans to adopt the new OS in the next year.

That figure compares to about 30 per cent of the installed base that adopted Windows 2000 server in the first 12 months after it shipped.

Critics have characterized Windows Server 2003, whose release has been delayed three times from its original date of October 2001, as an incremental upgrade to Windows 2000. That assessment, a sagging economy and the on-going war in Iraq are a combination that will impact corporate adoption, experts say.

“Microsoft’s two biggest competitors are itself with Windows 2000, which is a solid operating system, and external factors including the fact that we are in a deep economic downturn,” says Laura DiDio, an analyst with the Yankee Group. “Microsoft is faced with the fact that people don’t have the money and it’s tough to make a business case for this upgrade.”

The Yankee Group survey shows that 34 per cent of 1,000 respondents plan to adopt the server. Of those, 63 per cent say they have no timetable for that adoption and only seven per cent say they plan to immediately deploy the server, which equals about two per cent of the install base.

Another 11 per cent of the committed adopters say they will roll out the server out in three to six months, while five per cent said they would do it in six to nine months, and 14 per cent in 12 months.

Overall, nearly 51 per cent of the respondents said they have not yet determined if they will adopt the server and 15 per cent said they would not be deploying it.

DiDio says that of the 15 per cent not planning an upgrade, 42 per cent said that they have no compelling business justification. Another 13 per cent said they could not afford it under Microsoft’s new Licensing 6.0 program, 12 per cent said they had no budget, and nine per cent said they were considering a move to Linux.

Microsoft has focused the appeal of Windows Server 2003 on consolidation, security, performance, and ease of use that will free up IT for other tasks. The OS features built-in support for Microsoft’s .Net Framework, 64-bit versions, and enhancements to Active Directory.

The OS is the first to be developed under Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing initiative that began in January 2002, which contributed to delays in the server’s release.

Microsoft has especially been touting the server’s appeal for customers running aging versions of the Windows OS saying deployment costs could be cut by as much as 50 per cent over NT Server 4.0. The company also said those users will see a dramatic reduction in transaction costs and a 40 per cent increase in stability based on improvements in the driver model and system recovery features.

Bill Veghte, corporate vice-president of the Windows Server Division at Microsoft, said Windows Server 2003 will allow companies to reduce through consolidation their number of servers by up to 30 per cent, and with more efficient management features allow them to cut overall costs by 20 per cent.

“Windows Server 2003 is the highest quality Windows server operating system ever released,” he said.

Microsoft says more than 550,000 customers signed up for preview program betas, the highest number for any server in the history of the company.

Windows Server 2003 will be released in seven versions: Datacenter Edition, Datacenter Edition for 64-bit Itanium 2, Enterprise Edition, Enterprise Edition for 64-bit Itanium 2, Standard Edition, Web Edition and Small Business Server 2003, which will ship in the fall.

The server will be release in conjunction with a 64-bit version of SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition, which is designed to support memory-intensive and high-performance applications running on 64-bit versions of Windows Server 2003.

The company also will launch Visual Studio.Net 2003 at the Windows Server 2003 kick-off slated for April 24 in San Francisco.