Welcome to our new Research column, a biweekly look at the significant forecasts, predictions, and data you need to keep your organization headed in the right direction. Each column will contain exclusive research results from Survey.Com and others, as well as a review of important findings from the leading market research organizations that serve the IT community, including Gartner Group/Dataquest, IDC, Meta Group, and Zona Research. More than just crunching numbers, this column will dive into the trends beyond the numbers, providing insight and analysis you can't find elsewhere.

Dr. Elliot King is the author for this Research column. Dr. King has almost 20 years of experience as a technology writer, researcher, and analyst. He currently is the director of the Digital Media Laboratory at Loyola College in Maryland. You can reach him via email at eking2@prodigy.net.

When Microsoft released Windows 2000 last winter, many industry analysts and consultants recommended that companies delay migrating to the platform until Microsoft released the first service pack. The analysts and consultants made this recommendation in the face of a Giga Information Group report in February that indicated that more than half of the Win2K Professional customers polled found the product an order of magnitude more reliable than early releases of Windows NT Workstation or Windows 9x.

But the consultants' and analysts' recommendations apparently found a receptive audience. Exclusive research from Survey.Com shows that actual Win2K Pro deployment through August of this year lags behind the expectations that IT professionals expressed before the software's release. In a survey published early this year, 54.5 percent of the respondents planned to have begun their Win2K Pro deployment by the second quarter of the year, and 70 percent suggested they would begin deployment by the end of the third quarter (see Figure 1).

A current unpublished study involving almost 1350 IT professionals from companies of all sizes indicates that Win2K Pro deployment is occurring more slowly than anticipated. As Figure 2 shows, as of late August, only 18 percent of the respondents had deployed Win2K Pro. Another 6 percent had completed their evaluation and pilot projects and were planning a full-scale deployment. Fifteen percent were currently involved in pilot projects, while 31 percent of the respondents indicated that they were in the evaluation stage.

Clearly, Win2K Pro deployment is moving at a slower rate than IT professionals expected before the product release. And whether Service Pack 1 (SP1) will greatly accelerate the deployment rate is still unclear. Nevertheless, in the long run, Win2K should achieve the expected 90 percent plus penetration in the corporate marketplace: Only 2 percent of the respondents indicated that they wouldn't ultimately evaluate Win2K. And, of those who have evaluated Win2K, only 6 percent said that they wouldn't deploy it in the near future.

The top concerns of IT professionals evaluating Win2K aren't bugs or reliability but the cost and complexity of migration and training (see Figure 3). The top concerns of those who have opted not to implement Win2K are the cost and complexity of migration coupled with a fear of bugs (see Figure 4). In the short run, the release of SP1 may influence some professionals in this category.

So what's the implication for IT managers considering Win2K? Those who have delayed evaluating or deploying Win2K can't put off addressing this issue much longer without risking their organizations' competitiveness. Organizations that have decided to move to Win2K appear poised to do so over the next 6 months. IT managers who have decided that their companies aren't going to move to Win2K must select their alternative soon to remain competitive.