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W2K has few surprises but doesn't fail to impress

While Bill Gates' keynote address Thursday did have a few surprises, most notably impressive benchmarking results that ranked a system using Microsoft's Windows 2000 as three times faster than a similar system running Unix, attendees at the Windows 2000 Expo seemed to already know what to expect from the much touted operating system.

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SAN FRANCISCO - While Bill Gates' keynote address Thursday today did have a few surprises, most notably impressive benchmarking results that ranked a system using Microsoft's Windows 2000 as three times faster than a similar system running Unix, attendees at the Windows 2000 Expo seemed to already know what to expect from the much touted operating system.

And, what they see, they like.

Despite recent reports that Windows 2000 (W2K) is loaded with bugs, reports that Microsoft denies, IT professionals here at the show said they're impressed with what they've seen so far.

"From what I've seen, they've taken their time and are introducing a product that is really superior to anything we've seen before," said Jimmy Lange, project leader, data communications services, Leggett & Platt Inc.

Stability has been named as one of the most impressive characteristics of W2K. In fact, several beta testers said that W2K is nearly impossible to crash.

"The product is more stable than its predecessor," said Jim Melton, director of information services, Melton Technologies, Winston Salem, N.C. Melton has been using a W2K beta since October. "It's hard to crash," he said. "I've yet to see one blue screen. I could not make one totally stop. We're ready for the real thing."

Melton may be ready for the real thing, but many IT professionals are waiting at least six months before migrating to the new operating system.

"We won't migrate up front right away," said Lange, "We'll do our desktops first, see how it all fits."

"What I've seen so far sounds really good," said Steve Laterra, manager, FDIC, Arlington, V.A. "But, we won't migrate for at least a year. The biggest part is planning and designing the roll out, which is what we'll spend the next several months doing. By the time we get around to it the number of service packs will be out. We'll let the other people work out the bugs."

Attendees are talking about W2K's scalability, meaning it can handle growth in a system-with ease-something that Windows NT 4.0 couldn't do. It has the ability to group processors together to tackle big jobs such as running a major Web site.

"They've really addressed issues in this product that they didn't address with NT 4.0," said Tina Cady-Vannett, senior client server specialist, SAC County PWA, Rancho Cordova, Calif. "Windows 2000 appears to be much more granular than NT 4.0."

"Now I can chose administration rights, assign user privileges without fear that they'd shut down a computer," said Ginger Karan, senior analyst, SAC County PWA. "I don't have to give administration rights across the board."

"We've heard from some beta users that performance improvements is as much as 75 percent better than NT 4.0," said Cady-Vannett. "That's really impressive."

W2K also features Active Directory, a feature Novell has had for a year. "It's taken them a long time to come up with Active Directory, but now they have it," said Cady-Vannett. "It seems they waited for a long time but for a good reason. You can only wait for so long before you have to move on to another product-go some place else. But we're a Microsoft shop," she said. "And, we wanted to wait for this. Cady-Vannett said she won't be migrating for a least several months.

Overall, attendees are giving the new operating system high marks.

"Windows 2000 is going to make my Exchange work better at last," Melton said. "Everything is an improvement to us. I think the changes might not be that apparent to the naked eye, but to IT managers, they're significant."

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