Dell: Win2000 is a good thing

Dell Computer CEO Michael Dell sounded a lot more upbeat about Windows 2000's prospects on Tuesday than he did at the end of last week.

Dell, who provided the opening keynote at this week's Windows 2000 Conference & Expo in San Francisco, attempted to distance himself from comments he made last Thursday during Dell Computer's fourth quarter earnings call. Dell reportedly said at that time that he foresaw no rush of corporate customers lining up to embrace Windows 2000.

Tuesday, Dell countered those remarks, claiming that "there might have been an incorrect connection" between his remarks and a GartnerGroup report, also issued at the end of last week, advising customers to wait for Microsoft's first update to Windows 2000 to avoid potential application incompatibility problems.

"We're ready for Windows 2000 to happen as soon as our customers are ready for it to happen," said Dell during a press question-and-answer session that followed his remarks at the Bill Graham civic auditorium.

When asked about his bullish comments on Linux as of late, Dell added, "The adoption rate of Windows 2000 won't be determined by my speeches. It will be determined by customers themselves. We believe the adoption rate [for Windows 2000] will be strong."

But he also noted that "Dell is offering a broad range of OSes." He said that between Linux and Windows 2000, both of which Dell Computer is preloading on its servers, "we believe we are addressing two-thirds of the market's needs."

Dell told attendees that his company is betting heavily on Windows 2000 as the core of the Internet infrastructure upon which Dell Computer and its customers will base their e-businesses.

In two weeks time, Dell Computer will unveil its DellHost.com data-centre hosting strategy, said Dell. Windows 2000 will be one of several operating-system choices that Dell Computer will offer to small-business customers who want to outsource their IT operations, Dell said. He said Dell Computer will offer both shared and dedicated hosting to interested customers, and added that the company "also is looking at the ASP business, as well."

Dell Computer has been a Rapid Deployment Partner (RDP) for Windows 2000, meaning it has worked closely with Microsoft Corp. throughout the beta testing process for Windows 2000. The company is offering Windows 2000 installation and product certification.

The Dell Technology Consulting Group is working with Microsoft on migration, storage-area-network support and clustering revolving around Windows 2000. And the company is offering customers access to its Windows 2000 Readiness Advisor to determine in advance any potential migration problems, Dell said.

Dell told keynote attendees that he has been running Windows 2000 beta versions on his own Latitude notebook computer for the past six months or so. And Dell Computer is beginning its conversion of 35,000 internal Dell e-mail accounts to Exchange 2000, the next version of Exchange based on Active Directory and optimised for Windows 2000.

Dell added that as of last Wednesday, Dell Computer began running Dell.com on Windows 2000. He noted that Dell.com currently generates 50 percent of Dell's sales, to the tune of $40 million (£25 million) a day.

Dell showed a simulated comparison of 100,000 simultaneous customers accessing Dell.com pages on Dell PowerEdge 2450 systems running NT 4.0 and Windows 2000. When accessing both static and dynamic page content, Dell said Windows 2000 demonstrated a 20 percent average gain in performance over NT 4.0; when accessing static content only, he said performance gains of up to 75 percent were demonstrable. Dell attributed these gains to improvements that Microsoft has made to the operating system's TCP/IP stack and its Internet Information Server middleware.

Dell also showed how Dell Computer is running the Dellware Value Chain Portal for small-business customers using Windows 2000 and an alpha version of Microsoft's BizTalk Server technology. The Value Chain Portal allows small businesses to place and fulfil orders for Dell and third-party products over the Web.

Dell customer Ford Motor Co. presented its plans for a phased migration to Windows 2000 and Dell servers over the next year. Ford, which also is a Windows 2000 RDP customer, has two of its enterprise applications (engineering-change management and vehicle-production scheduling) in beta on Windows 2000.

Over the next few months, Ford is planning to convert 600 of its infrastructure servers to Windows 2000, which it will follow with a move of its corporate e-mail and Web servers to the operating system. By early 2001, the company plans to migrate Ford desktops to Windows 2000.

Compaq CEO Michael Capellas will provide an evening keynote later Tuesday at the conference. Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates officially will launch Windows 2000 on Thursday morning during his keynote.

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