Although the Windows 2000 rollout has been slower than anticipated (the Gartner Group estimates that by the end of the year only about 5 percent of the Windows NT 4.0 installed base and only about 10 percent of Microsoft desktops will have migrated), Microsoft's latest quarterly numbers make it clear that the Win2K rollout is starting to pick up steam. In part, strong Win2K desktop version sales fueled the company's upside earning surprise, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) John Conners said after Microsoft's earning were announced.

Several factors account for Win2K's sluggish progress, including the fact that Microsoft underestimated the length and complexity of the evaluation process. Moreover, the adoption criteria are slightly different for the three platform segments. As exclusive research from indicates, most companies require more than 60 days to evaluate Win2K and nearly half need more than 90 days for the process (see Figure 1).

When you look at the numbers, you see that the companies that have completed the evaluation process but have not yet launched pilot programs are those that required less time for evaluation. These companies are often smaller organizations with less complex IT infrastructures. For everyone else, Win2K evaluation is a complex, time-consuming affair. And when you consider that evaluation is only one step on the long road to rollout, you can understand why Win2K is only now gathering steam.

With the evaluation process edging toward completion in many organizations, it's important to understand why companies decided to deploy Win2K on server, desktop, and laptop platforms. Although improved reliability/stability is the top reason across all three platforms for moving to Win2K, the criteria and weighting among the criteria are different for deploying the new OS on servers, desktops, and laptops. Figure 2, Figure 3, and Figure 4 show the top reasons for Win2K deployment for IT managers who are implementing or have finished implementing the system on different computing platforms.

In the server arena, after reliability/stability, security and performance are top reasons for moving forward with the deployment. In addition, IT managers see clear technical benefits for using Win2K on a server platform. (See Figure 2.)

In the desktop and laptop arenas, the picture changes. After reliability/stability, performance and manageability are the top reasons for moving to Win2K on the desktop. And unlike in the server market, usability is a key concern in the desktop market. (See Figure 3.) respondents reported that usability is even more important for laptops than desktops (see Figure 4). In both the desktop and laptop arenas, security—while an issue—is of less concern than it is in the server space.

Variations in the reasons IT managers provided for deploying Win2K partially explain the different rates with which those deployments have begun on the various platforms (see Figure 5). With security a top concern, it's no surprise that the process is slower on servers than on desktop and laptop computers. That concern accounts for the current adoption pace, which should pick up as many organizations conclude the lengthy evaluation process.