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February 17, 1999
Low key isn't the word. For a Microsoft launch, it was almost uncomfortably modest.
Windows 2000 made its official entry into India this morning with little of the hype and pageantry that usually accompany any MS launch. The latest Windows didn't have its own theme song, like its predecessors. It was so low-key that it might have worried the most ardent of Microsoft fans.
There were reports that Bill Gates is betting on Windows 2000 to enter the big league of OSs serving Internet-enabled businesses but that confidence didn't show.
The only guests at the party were scribes hoping for some action from a big name like Microsoft. But the party, held at the Hotel Oberoi in New Delhi, was dubbed a press launch.
One of the reasons that Windows 2000 may not have generated a frenzy is that it isn't for everybody.
Windows 2000 is not a direct successor to Windows 98. In fact, Ed Bott of Zdnet has pointed out that you can even find traces of the new operating system's real name, Windows NT 5.
The entire focus of Windows 2000, called Win2K by the techies, is to help corporates Internet-enable their businesses.
Using the slogan, 'The business Internet starts here', Microsoft is hyping Win2K as the ideal secure, stable, reliable and scalable OS.
'Microsoft has been in the operating system business for 25 years now 'and Windows 2000 is the result of our biggest, richest and most rewarding development to date,' said Rajiv Nair, Microsoft India.
The company has faced flak from independent reviewers over for the 'delayed launch of Win2K and the huge number of bugs that apparently persist in the OS.
However, marketing manager Sanjay Mirchandani, could still bravely say that this was not just a Microsoft initiative but a complete industry effort. And provided statistics:
Windows 2000 is compatible with over 11,000 devices. Hundred companies have adopted it early and over 75,000 beta testers have worked on it. This is Microsoft's most expensive product, with over $ 1 billion spent on developmental efforts, he said. Independent reviewers have said that there are still hardware compatibility issues to address, especially with gaming and multimedia devices, and the need more hardware requirements.
With a slew of advanced security features and the new Active Directory Win2K is definitely at home on business networks. Combining the ease of use and plug and play feature from Windows 98 with the strength and robustness of the NT platform, Windows 2000 is like all the other Microsoft products.
Windows 2000 inside
Win2K comes in four flavours:
The data center server is not available now but will be out in three-four months.
The full Windows 2000 server package will cost around Rs 40,000 while an upgrade pack will come for about Rs 20,000. The Windows 2000 Professional pack, the desktop version, would cost around Rs 10,000.
Windows 2000 comes with a slew of features designed to make life easier for users.
The fully 32-bit OS offers enhanced security features, including Kerberos version 5 (a network authentication protocol) and public key encryption. With new features like symmetric multi-processing and better remote installation, Win2K is an improvement on Windows NT 4.0.
But this also means more lines of code and heavier demands on hardware.
The minimum system requirements for the Windows 2000 Professional is:
But Microsoft developers justify these demands, saying that the heavier code and requirements were required because Windows 2000 supports many in-built services like cute components, event management and integrated Web and application server eliminating the need to write for users to write separate components.
The good news for Indian software developers is yet to come though. A Windows product line for the first time will support Indian language applications.
Windows 2000 uses Unicode in its kernel, unlike the ASCII standard supported by the earlier products. Unicode is a 16-bit code that can be used to represent the scripts of languages from Chinese to Malayalam or any other Indian language.
Many in the Indian computing industry were hoping that Microsoft would soon bring out localised versions of its OS which they felt would give a boost computer usage in India.
Mirchandani clarified that the Indian audience cannot hope to see Windows in Hindi or any other local language so soon.
"This is the first effort on our part to build in local language support. We have given developers an enabling platform by incorporating the necessary DLLs to support local language applications. But it doesn't mean the Windows menu will be in Hindi," he said.
Microsoft plans to focus on corporates in its marketing drive for Win2K, but it declined to give any figures on the expected sales.
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