International Data Corporation (IDC) market research reports indicate that Windows 2000 sales aren't just moving along, they're starting to steamroll sales of the OS's predecessor, Windows NT 4.0. The research results are welcome news for Microsoft, no doubt, although the company has been curiously and conspicuously silent about Win2K sales, quietly canceling a scheduled "Win2K momentum announcement" planned for last month. For those who expected Win2K to have the instant impact on the market that Windows 95 had, the reports end 9 months of uncertainty. But Win2K's slow uptake shouldn't have confused anyone.
The IDC reports answer a number of questions. Win2K Professional's adoption, for example, is much faster than Win2K Server's adoption. The difference should come as no surprise, even to those who (wrongly, in my opinion) advised a year ago that Win2K Server should be deployed in the enterprise before Win2K Pro. Win2K Pro works seamlessly with any network, without requiring the massive planning, staging, and rollout of a Win2K Server install. And Win2K Pro is the Windows client that mobile and desktop users have been practically begging for because it works with the latest hardware (e.g., USB and FireWire), supports the latest technologies (e.g., Advanced Configuration and Power Interface—ACPI—power management), and offers the reliability and stability that we've come to expect from the NT family. As you know, Win2K Pro is a no-compromises solution for end users, and using it is practically a no brainer, assuming you have the hardware to run it. (I also suspect that most Win2K Pro installs occurred when people requisitioned new hardware, and it simply arrived with the new OS instead of NT Workstation or Windows 98.)
But the need for up-to-date hardware isn't the only reason corporations didn't jump on Win2K upon release. Rearchitecting a network for Win2K Server takes a lot of time, and IDC says that most of the transition to Win2K will take place during the next 12 to 18 months. Win2K Server will account for 35 percent of all Windows server shipments this month, a sharp rise from its 16 percent average for the rest of the year. By the end of 2001, Win2K Server will account for more than 56 percent of all Windows server sales.
However, the figures for Win2K Pro are far more impressive. IDC estimates that Win2K Pro will account for more than 40 percent of all Win2K Pro and NT 4.0 Workstation sales this year. By the end of 2001, Win2K Pro will dominate—with more than 72 percent of those sales. When you combine Win2K Server and Win2K Pro/Workstation, Win2K shipments will outnumber NT 4.0 shipments in the fourth quarter of this year by 1.7 million units. In 2001, Win2K could account for more than 70 percent of all Win2K and NT 4.0 shipments.
IDC doesn't discuss several issues that I think will contribute dramatically to Win2K sales over time. First and most obvious—the Win2K service packs, which Microsoft promises to deliver regularly. Microsoft released Service Pack 1 (SP1) in late July, so we can expect to see SP2 early next year if the company holds to its schedule (incidentally, SP2 Beta 1 was just released). Service pack releases and Web-based updates that are delivered far more frequently are key to the new OS's acceptance. And I think that Whistler, the next Win2K version, will be an even bigger enticement to upgrade. I discuss Whistler and Win2K migration in my editorial in the January issue of Windows 2000 Magazine, so I won't rehash the subject here. Suffice it to say that I expect Whistler to have the same effect on Win2K that Windows 3.1 had on the 16-bit Windows product line.
Win2K adoption is like a force of nature: It will happen—and all you can do is hope to manage it in a way that makes sense for your organization. I realize I'm opening my Inbox up to a full frontal attack here, but what the heck, I'm interested: How's your Win2K migration going?