FRAMINGHAM (03/03/2000) - The buzz on Computerworld's community forums is all about Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 2000 these days. Should corporations migrate, and if so, when? And already a few knotty problems have cropped up with popular applications and hardware.
If you haven't checked out the forums yet, sign in and ask some questions. If the editors at Computerworld and your peers can't supply the answers, we'll go straight to the source.
To Migrate . . . or Not to Migrate?
The opinions from forum participants are running at a ratio of about 2-to-1 against immediate migration. Some users say they aren't moving because Windows NT suits their needs and Win 2k currently offers no compelling attractions.
Others have started the migration and are thrilled. The following is a sampling:
"We are in the midst of an NT-to-Linux conversion on our servers. . . . A year ago, the big topic of computing was, How do we keep the servers from crashing?' Today, it's, What else can the servers do?' What a change an [operating system] makes."
Information systems project leader
Giant Industries Inc.
"Like most [people], I have chosen not to fix what ain't broke. I find my NT 4 systems to be rock solid so far. On the other hand, I just happen to be needing a new server for my company. I wanted to use Win 2000 for this one, since most of the load will come after the project's beta phase, giving me plenty of time to love it or leave it. I also feel a bit safer buying the server with [Windows 2000] in mind, just for proven hardware compatibility."
"My main concern is the huge amount of information I've read about incompatibilities with Win 2k clients and non-Win 2k servers. How do you convert a large organization (750 machines scattered across the state of Montana) in any reasonable time frame?"
Enterprise network architect
Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Montana
"As much as I personally like [Win 2k], for the next several months my life will continue to revolve around developers and vendors as we work out our proprietary kinks. By the time we are ready, [Service Pack 1] should be out, and we will begin migration at that time."
Some readers who have started using Win 2k say they are encountering compatibility problems they hadn't reckoned on. Sybase Inc.'s SQL suite has some serious connectivity "gotchas," for example.
We queried Microsoft Corp. and Emeryville, Calif.-based Sybase to find out what the problem was and when it's likely to be fixed. We haven't received an answer from Sybase. Microsoft responded: "Sybase is currently not compatible with Windows 2000."
On the hardware side came the following comment from a forum visitor:
"On the mobile PC, I have random responses on the PCMCIA modem cards. For some reason . . . Win 2k was changing my port number for my modem, and the modem stopped responding. After this, the PCMCIA slots were unusable, and W2k had to be reinstalled. Use caution if you think you want to purchase [Win 2k]."
Teltrust Inc., Salt Lake City
Some forum participants reported they had used Microsoft's Readiness Analyzer, a utility that checks PCs for potential Windows 2000 incompatibilities, before installing the new operating system. The utility apparently failed to pick up most of the problems that subsequently occurred.
We checked with Microsoft to find out what happened. "The Readiness Analyzer does not provide information on all existing hardware and software you might be running on your system," a spokesman said. He suggested checking Microsoft's Hardware and Software Compatibility Lists for more accurate information. Some of the products we needed to check weren't on either list, in which case Microsoft recommends dealing directly with the manufacturer.
If that's the case, one forum participant argued, you could save time by ditching the utility and the lists and going straight to your manufacturer for the real scoop.
One bright note: Mark Wisely, a laboratory administrator at John Deere Information Systems in Moline, Ill., reports that he has been able to overcome possible DVD compatibility troubles with shareware. "PowerDVD is the program we have used. It's customizable and works well with Windows 2000." It can be downloaded from (www.cyberlink.com.tw/english/products/ powerdvd.asp).