Try it, you'll like it. That's the message IT managers who have deployed or are currently deploying Windows 2000 are sending to those who haven't yet begun the evaluation process. An exclusive Research UPDATE analysis of data collected by reveals that Win2K delivers on IT managers' expectations for improved reliability, stability, and performance—the managers' top concerns. At the same time, Win2K usability has proven to be a pleasant surprise in desktop and laptop implementations.

As usual, one needs to analyze Win2K according to the platform on which it is implemented. Figures 1 and 2 show the top features mentioned by IT professionals who have not yet begun to evaluate Win2K and those mentioned by representatives of IT organizations who are currently deploying or have finished deploying Win2K at the server level. As the data indicates, before evaluation, a little more than one-third of the respondents believed that reliability/stability would be a top feature. During and after deployment, that figure doubled to two-thirds of the respondents. Similarly, significantly more respondents who have already deployed Win2K on servers see performance as a top feature than those who haven't yet started the evaluation process.

Reliability/stability and performance also top the list of best features in the Win2K desktop and laptop segments. As with servers, users who have implemented Win2K rate those features more highly than those who are still evaluating the OS.

But Win2K has also held some surprises in the desktop and laptop arenas. As Figures 3 and 4 show, for desktops, usability is rated as a top feature among those who are currently deploying or have finished deploying the software, replacing desktop management.

Ironically, Microsoft software has never been known for its ease of use. Indeed, some pundits carp that each new software generation is harder to use than the previous one. That those who have implemented Win2K rate usability highly is an important vote of confidence.

As for laptop computing, as Figures 5 and 6 show, users who have migrated to Win2K also rate usability higher than those who haven't begun their migration. Moreover, Win2K use for mobile computing is more highly valued among those already using it.

These figures are important. For a product to succeed, it must meet or exceed the early adopters' expectations. In the view of many users, Windows 98 didn't pass that test. Moreover, taking a long view of Microsoft product introductions, it wasn't until the company released Windows NT 3.51 for servers and Windows 3.0 for the desktop that IT management fully embraced those OSs.

Win2K seems to have gotten off to a stronger start. As more organizations implement the OS, the comfort level throughout corporate America should rise. Furthermore, the numbers indicate that Win2K might be well positioned to capitalize on the move to mobile computing.