More Functionality in Windows Server 2003, but at What Price?

Microsoft delivers Windows Server 2003 with more features and functionality, but is it worth the cost of upgrading? Jacqueline Emigh reports.

 By Jacqueline Emigh
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Throughout the Windows Server 2003 launch last week, Microsoft touted the five flavors of its latest server platform as bringing abundant new features across management, security, networking, and communications. Just for starters, the parade of new features includes Internet Authentication Service (IAS), Configure Your Server (CYS) and Manage Your Server (MYS) wizards, and Group Policy Management Console (GPMC), a separate snap-in component for the Microsoft Management Console (MMC).

Microsoft officials are trying to cast the features and faster performance of W2K+3 as good medicine for bad financial times. Windows Server 2003 will let organizations "do more with less," contended Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, speaking at the main launch in San Francisco. Additionally, third-party vendors are already lining up with hardware products and software applications meant to leverage these new capabilities.

Not everyone, though, is convinced that Microsoft has a solid grasp of the financial realities facing systems administrators today.

Financial Realities of 2003

Many customers are carefully weighing whether to upgrade from existing Windows 2000 and NT 4.0 implementations, given the current state of the economy.

"Risk is the one factor that Microsoft fails to consider," argued an outside consultant specializing in Windows server implementations.

"It's risky to recommend the purchase of a new server platform to your company. What happens if things don't work out? A lot of people just don't want to put their jobs on the line right now."

Customers Weighing Upgrades

Still, many customers are taking a serious look at upgrades, especially those currently using Windows NT 4.0. Systems administrators say they're exploring what to expect from the various editions of W2K+3.

"We've heard that Microsoft might be offering lower licensing fees in some editions of the server," said an administrator from a New York City municipal agency. The organization is currently considering whether to upgrade from NT 4.0. Although W2K has been out on the market now for three years, about half of all Windows server licenses are still for NT, according to some industry estimates.

Lup S. Kong, systems analyst at the New York Branch of National Bank of Canada, said his branch of the bank is eyeing a possible migration from a current mix of Windows 2000 and Novell NetWare servers. "I'm mostly interested in the improved security," Kong added during an interview.

Page 2: Ferreting Out the Features

This article was originally published on Apr 28, 2003
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