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.NET Server: Does it belong in your future?

How big of a deal is the forthcoming Windows .NET Server? The answer depends on your situation, said a Gartner analyst at the firm's "Windows: Nothing but .NET?" conference.

LOS ANGELES -- Gartner vice president and research director Tom Bittman was a little like Charles Dickens during his talk at the consulting firm's Windows: Nothing but .NET? conference.

Bittman introduced the Ghost of Windows Future.

The ghost wasn't a shrouded, silent specter like the one in "A Christmas Carol." It was more like a set of slides that advised administrators of Windows Present what to expect in the future -- and how to keep from getting scrooged.

The near future

Windows .NET Server represents the near future -- it's slated for release before the end of the year. You may wonder if you can't live without it. Or you may wonder if you need it at all.

Bittman said .NET Server is a point release. Whether it's in or out of your future depends on your situation, he said:

  • If you aren't running any Windows 2000 Servers, you should slipstream in .NET Server if the deployment timing fits. If .NET Server's new features like Active Directory Version 2 and 64-bit support are valuable to you, consider delaying your Win2k deployment and waiting for .NET Server.
  • If you're running a few Win2k servers, make sure to avoid mixing domain controllers as you work in .NET Server. Evidently some architecture changes can force "emulation mode," which can cripple several Active Directory enhancements.
  • If you're already rolling out Active Directory with Win2k domain controllers, keep rolling.
  • If you're running all Win2k servers, stay with them and upgrade with hardware refreshments (avoid mixing domain controllers!). Keep in mind that .NET Server is a point release -- and let it go.

The server cemetery

What about the futures of Win2k and NT 4.0 Servers? The Ghost of Windows Future evidently took Bittman to the server cemetery and pointed out the stones. Bittman advised getting away from NT Server 4.0 by the end of 2004 at the latest, although earlier is better. Win2k Server's supported life cycle will end in 2005.

So that's the near future. How does the more distant future look from the Windows of Redmond?

Distribution of power

Bittman said manageability and distributed manageability will be the most important factors in the future of Windows. .NET, while it addresses distributed computing, does not address distributed management. You can expect Microsoft to dominate distributed computing (also called "organic" and "autonomic" computing to be perfectly confusing) within three years. Bittman said Microsoft is late to this market, which aims to reduce TCO, maximize service and increase levels of agility (e.g. instant fixes) and availability.

Shopping spree

Like a giant space rock holding the future of earth, an astronomical chunk of change about the size of the asteroid Vesta will impact Microsoft's future. The company has a $38 billion pile of cash waiting to be spent. Bittman thinks as soon as the antitrust suit smoke clears, MS will go on a shopping spree that will put Imelda Marcos to shame.

The spree won't focus on shoes but management tools as well as technology and enterprise consulting. Microsoft wants the same kind of control IBM has via consulting, and growth in that area will become more important as Microsoft grows through the enterprise. By 2005, Bill and company will make a major move.

The Ghost of Windows Future has spoken!


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