While it has reservations about the product, International Business Machines (IBM) says that it is betting on the success of Windows 2000 to drive sales. In fact, the hardware giant is doing everything it can to make sure that as many of its systems as possible are compatible with Microsoft's next enterprise operating system.

IBM officials say that the problems with Windows 2000 mostly involve Active Directory, which needs to be enhanced to be compatible with industry-standard LDAP directories. The company also wants Microsoft to improve its Kerberos security feature to be compatible with the Kerberos standard.

"These problems need to be addressed before Windows 2000 can smoothly be integrated into multi-vendor environments," Pat Gibney, IBM's director of Windows 2000 Systems, told the press during a two-day Windows 2000 briefing. "The \[Kerberos\] incompatibility was not solved in our last test." Gibney also complained about the performance of Windows 2000 on eight-way Intel servers: Microsoft has been touting the OS' agility on such systems since Alpha support was dropped.

"I think users will be disappointed with \[Windows 2000's\] performance on a single eight-way server handling mixed workloads in terms of the payback they will get," he said. "But it does a good job handling loads in a homogeneous environment."

When Windows 2000 ships, IBM will have over 250 PCs and servers on the hardware compatibility list.

In addition to hardware support for Windows 2000, IBM is gunning for software compatibility as well. All 300 of IBM's business applications will be compatible with Windows 2000 "from day one." It's DB2, MQSeries, Webshere, and Tivoli systems management packages will also be Windows 2000 compatible when the OS is released. Lotus Domino, SecureWay Communications Server, and other products will be compatible by mid-2000, the company says.

As for the release of Windows 2000, IBM apparently agrees with me: The company says that it believes that Microsoft will RTM in October and release the product in time for Fall Comdex in November, with widespread public availability in January