Microsoft has released the Windows 2000 Readiness Kit for BackOffice 4.5. This kit provides patches for all Microsoft BackOffice components to ensure their Windows 2000 (Win2K) compatibility. BackOffice is Microsoft's server suite. It comes with Windows NT 4.0 and all the basics for a medium-sized enterprise network, including components such as Microsoft Exchange Server, Proxy Server, SQL Server, SNA Server, and some integration and management tools. BackOffice automates and integrates many of the interchanges that occur among these components. Microsoft never intended for BackOffice to be a complete communications/networking/databasing solution for medium to large enterprises, but rather a package that lets organizations buy multiple server-based applications at one time and conveniently install those applications. BackOffice is not yet available for Win2K. However, Microsoft plans to release BackOffice 4.5 when major components, such as Exchange Server and SQL Server, complete their next revisions. Microsoft expects to release the next version of BackOffice at the beginning of third quarter 2000; however, the company is releasing the Readiness Kit now so that users will be ready to simply lift their BackOffice components off NT 4.0 and put them down on Windows 2000 Server (Win2K Server). According to a Microsoft spokesperson, "The numerous advantages of uniting Microsoft BackOffice Server 4.5 with Microsoft Windows 2000 Server include more robust interoperability, comprehensive Web services, and information-sharing capabilities, as well as centralized customizable user and group management. With the introduction of Active Directory services and Global Catalog, Windows 2000 offers easier domain administration, single user logon for resource access, and enhanced network and data security." Users should be aware that the Readiness Kit isn't complete at this time. If you use the kit to upgrade your BackOffice network to Win2K Server, you'll lose Microsoft Systems Management Server. SMS 2.0 requires an upgrade to Service Pack 2 (SP2) before it'll operate on Win2K Server, and SP2 isn't available yet. A basic overview of the Win2K Server migration process for BackOffice networks is available on the Microsoft Web site. In addition, Microsoft has issued a white paper detailing the Win2K Server addition process. The Windows 2000 Readiness Kit for BackOffice 4.5 is also available online for download.