Was It Worth The Wait?

In a word, yes it was worth the wait. PC Magazine Labs has been testing Microsoft Windows 2000 for over a year, and we're very impressed with the scope and power of its new features. We're even more impressed with its stability; crashes have been exceedingly rare.

Windows 2000 Special Report

Specifically, the bigger your business or the more you're already using Windows NT, the more value there is in making the upgrade. If you're a small office, multimedia company, or game user, we advise waiting for the rest of the industry to catch up before embracing Windows 2000. We found upgrading existing Windows 98 systems to Windows 2000 Professional very tricky because of numerous hardware and software compatibility problems. Upgrading Windows NT desktops and notebooks was easier but not without problems. For medium-size and large organizations, Windows 2000 provides valuable tools for building and expanding your e-business.

After years of claiming to have an enterprise-class directory service, Windows finally has, in Active Directory, one that can compete with the best of them. And Windows 2000 provides an impressive platform of Internet, intranet, extranet, and management applications that integrate tightly with Active Directory. You can set up virtual private networks secure, encrypted connections across the Internet with your choice of protocol. You can encrypt data on the network or on-disk. You can give users consistent access to the same files and objects from any network-connected PC. You can use the Windows Installer to distribute software to users over the LAN.

Unfortunately for many organizations, upgrading network systems to use Active Directory will require months of planning. Moreover, there is no undo command; adopting Active Directory is a one-way street. What this means in practical terms is that many shops will be operating in what Microsoft refers to as Mixed Mode (with some Windows NT 4 domains) for a while able to take advantage of many of Windows 2000 features but not all.

Fortunately for individual users, the workstation version of Windows 2000, called Windows 2000 Professional, is actually easier to use than Windows NT 4 and has much better support for newer peripherals and mobile users. Windows 2000 Server comes in three editions: Server, Advanced Server, and Datacenter Server, the last of which won't ship until mid-2000. The more advanced and expensive versions have support for greater numbers of processors and larger amounts of memory and have better high-availability features, such as load balancing and clustering.