Editor's forecast: Never a dull moment

Windows 2000 was launched last February to the riffs of rock icon Carlos Santana's "Smooth," but the start of the new millennium was anything but for the infamous software colossus. "Uneven," "bumpy," "rough" - those words more accurately describe a year in which United States District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson declared Microsoft guilty of antitrust violations, and the company's own internal networks were hacked by a similarly unwelcome corporate gate-crasher.

No one knows whether the still-to-be-appealed judgement had any impact on the measured response to the Win2k platform from the professional IT community. But recent data from analysts like IDC and WebSideStory's StatMarket suggest that the updated Windows operating system is gaining momentum. According to IDC, Microsoft will ship 1.7 million more copies of Windows 2000 than Windows NT by the end of the year. In 2001, IDC predicts that even more companies will sign up to make the switch.

In the meantime � even as the world waits to see if Jackson's ruling to break the company in two will be upheld � Microsoft is not sitting idly by. Officials are taking aim at the high-end sever market with a vision for the emerging digital economy and a package of next-generation software, services and solutions that Bill Gates says rivals the company's first release of Windows way back in the 80's.

Dubbed Microsoft.Net, the package today includes XML-based application development tools, such as the just-released Visual Studio.Net beta and a range of heavy-duty, 2000-generation enterprise server platforms, including Commerce Server, Datacenter Server, BizTalk Server, Exchange Server, and SQL Server 2000.

Sometime in 2001, Microsoft plans to add a new client interface, Windows.Net, into the mix. Where this technology road map ultimately leads is anybody's guess. The ride will probably not be smooth. It certainly won't be dull.

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