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What should we choose -- Win2k, XP or .NET?

I am a bit overwhelmed and confused over all of the new Windows OSes coming out. I am an IT manager for a medium-sized school. We are going to purchase new servers for next year and I am unsure what OS to request. Currently we have NT4 servers. We've got about 150 desktops with 98, NT4 and Win2k. The majority of applications are run from the desktops; servers are used primarily for storage of files. Central applications would be Norton AV, Proxy Server, SMS and the like. Should I go to Win2k? Will there be an XP server OS? Or is everything going via .NET?

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The next release of Microsoft's server OS will be a .NET Server -- you can't always tell exactly what they are going to call it on final release though. Microsoft appears to be separating the server and client OS products and developers a little. Windows XP is essentially the next step to merging all desktop OSes into a single release.

However, given the size of your installation, I would say that you should not worry about rushing into it. Until you have a solid business reason for upgrading you probably shouldn't. For example, if you want to run applications that only run on Windows 2000 or .NET -- that is a viable business reason. If you are expanding your operation and need all of the Windows 2000 tools to be able to manage the operation, that is a viable business reason.

Of course, if you do not have a complex NT domain that needs to be migrated and simply have files servers in a single small domain, the migration is much less complicated. Watch out for hardware incompatibilities. Some of the older systems can have some issues running Windows 2000.

This was first published in April 2002

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