To slow or not to slow—that is the question. A fear of cuts in 2001's corporate IT spending seriously dampened moods during the holiday season. But this quarter will test the theory that companies plan to slash IT spending so deeply as to hamstring the rollout of Windows 2000. According to an exclusive analysis of data provided by Survey.com, companies that began their deployment of Win2K during or before third quarter 2000 still face a considerable amount of work to finish the job. Further, a significant percentage of companies evaluating Win2K in the third quarter of last year plan to deploy it in the first 6 months of 2001.

Graphs 1, 2, and 3 indicate the percentage of the Win2K deployment completed by responding corporations by the end of third quarter 2000. These companies completed their evaluations before September, when Service Pack 1 (SP1) was launched. Graph 1 shows the pace of deployment of Win2K on servers, Graph 2 on desktops, and Graph 3 on laptops

These remarkably consistent figures show that about 70 percent of the companies have accomplished fewer than half their deployments, regardless of platform. Between 25 percent and 40 percent have only begun their deployments (their deployments are less than 10 percent complete).

Clearly, the companies that first embraced Win2K technology have followed a very systematic, deliberate deployment process. Most of their Win2K technology installations should take place this quarter and next.

Most of the companies that were initiating or conducting the evaluation process in third quarter 2000 plan to begin deploying Win2K solutions in first and second quarters 2001. Graphs 4, 5, and 6 show the anticipated deployment-launch dates for these companies.

Once again, a consistent pattern emerges. Across all platforms, only a quarter or fewer of all respondents anticipated beginning Win2K rollout in fourth quarter 2000. In contrast, about half of all respondents targeted the first half of 2001 to begin their deployments, with most beginning in the first quarter.

In fact, the evidence points to a sharp decline in Win2K deployments in the second half of the year. In 2002, only a few latecomers will be deploying Win2K.

If you view the pace of current Win2K deployment with anticipated start dates of companies evaluating the program, this quarter emerges as the make-or-break moment for Win2K. Of course, if the slowdown in corporate IT spending occurs, or if the overall economy stumbles, deployment schedules for both sets of companies may be delayed or postponed. Even so, current deployments will likely continue apace, because technology upgrades often build their own internal momentum. We will know a lot more about the Win2K deployment in 4 weeks—or less.