At the Compaq Computer Enterprise division’s press conference in New York City this week, Microsoft announced it will raise the bar for SMP support in each version of Windows 2000 Server (Win2K Server). Win2K Server Beta Release Candidate 2 (RC2) will support up to four processors, and Windows 2000 Advanced Server (Win2K AS) will support up to eight processors. Microsoft plans to release both versions of the OS in November. Windows 2000 Datacenter Server (Datacenter) will provide support for up to 32 processors in an SMP box and will ship 90 days after Win2K Server and Win2K AS. The announcement from Microsoft on enhanced SMP support appeared at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/server/News/fromMS/SMPWin2000.asp. When it came to beefing up SMP support, Microsoft had no choice. The company's decision to offer improved SMP support will have a dramatic effect on sales over the next 6 months to a year for a new generation of 8-way systems based on Intel’s Profusion chip set. Without this announcement, many 8-way vendors, including Compaq, which supports Windows NT, SCO, NetWare, and Linux technologies in-house, might have considered moving their system sales to UNIX. By letting 4-way systems run on Win2K Server, Microsoft has made upgrading to this popular departmental server platform easier for companies. Many in the industry expect to see increased scalability in the next Linux release, and Win2K now has about a 2-year jump on Linux in this area. The Win2K beta program continues to move along with Microsoft's endeavors to fix about 150 significant bugs that apparently showed up in RC1. Microsoft plans to ship the next beta version, RC2, around September 1. Microsoft's SMP announcement was just one of several announcements at Compaq's press conference. Compaq announced that it is preparing to ship its two 8-way systems, the ProLiant 8000 and 8500 (code named Thunder and Lightening). These systems will sell for between $20,000 and $80,000. Compaq claimed that the ProLiant 8000 server set a Transaction Processing Council (TPC) benchmark result of 40,013.30 transactions per minute at $18.86 per transactions per minute cost (tpmC) running SQL Server 7.0 on NT 4.0. Compaq also claims to hold the new TPC-C Results by Performance records for 8-way, 4-way, and 2-way systems (see http://www.compaq.com/8-way). Compaq hopes to sell these systems to ISPs and application service providers (ASPs) where space is at a premium and processing power is concentrated in that space. Compaq will sell these systems as part of its NonStop eBusiness initiative, and the company hopes to be the major server provider to this market by 2001. Forrester Research estimates that this combined market will grow from its current size of $7.85 billion to $27.2 billion by 2001. The ISP and ASP marketplace will be a heavily contested growth area among hardware vendors over the next couple of years.