Win2K Still Strong in Enterprise

Windows 2000 is still deployed on almost half of corporate PCs, according to AssetMetrix Research Labs.

In a report released on Tuesday, the research division of AssetMetrix said that Windows 2000 remains a widely deployed operating system, losing just 4 percent since the fourth quarter of 2003. AssetMetrix provides on-demand business intelligence software.

But Windows XP gained in deployment during that period, rising from 6.6 percent to 38 percent of North American installations. XP evidently took corporate market share from Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows NT.

The survey said Windows 95 and Windows 98 were reduced from a collective 28 percent to less than 5 percent of installations, while NT slipped from 13.5 percent to around 10 percent. The measurements came from analyzing the aggregated customer data of the parent companies.

Windows XP has seen greater success in companies with fewer than 250 PCs, while Windows 2000 still has more than 50 percent market share in larger organizations, according to the report.

“Windows 2000 is at its tail end, but there’s still a huge amount in the enterprise,” said Steve O’Halloran, managing director of AssetMetrix Research Labs. He said three factors led to businesses clutching onto the five-year-old operating system.

First, according to O’Halloran, Windows 2000 was designed to be manageable and supportable by IT. “Microsoft made sure the marketplace could provide products and services for management and support,” he said. After companies invested so much in ancillary products and training, they might be loathe to start over.

Also, O’Halloran added, “the 2002 recession introduced the concept that computers can last longer than three years.”

Finally, reported problems with XP security — and that XP Service Pack 2 broke many enterprise applications — could have made businesses gun-shy, he said.

But O’Halloran noted that mainstream support for Windows 2000 is set to expire on June 30, 2005, while any company with a volume license already is paying for XP.

“We’re at an inflection point,” he said. “Companies that are maybe 40 percent XP have to ask themselves, ‘Is there a reason why I’m holding onto Windows 2000?’ They need to decide whether to let Win2K erode through PC replacement or to decisively move to the next version operating system.

“If [you’re using Windows 2000] for critical operations, if you built something that only works with Windows 2000, figure it out quick and fix it,” he said.

There may be another issue for Win2K companies. Longhorn is getting ready to hit the trail. Should companies wait and skip XP altogether?

“That’s a difficult game to play,” O’Halloran said. They would be betting on an unreleased operating system — and one that’s designed for 64-bit, to boot, although Microsoft has said 32-bit applications will run as well.

He advised IT procurement officers to go ahead and replace elderly computers with new ones running Windows XP. “But buy something more industrial strength,” he said, “so you don’t have to buy another computer when Longhorn comes. Microsoft understands that most of computers they want to sell Longhorn to are being purchased now.”

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