As the release of Microsoft's Windows 2000 nears, the small number of available applications certified to run with the operating system is causing some IT managers concern.
Today, only five applications are certified to run on Windows 2000 Professional, and only one on the Server version.
While Microsoft officials in Redmond, Washington, say that number should grow to about 40 applications for Professional by the time the operating system ships on February 17, that's still far fewer than certification programs for other operating systems.
According to Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst with International Data Corporation, in Framingham, Massachusetts, 40 certified applications is "a very, very, very small number," especially when compared with Unix vendors that certify thousands of applications.
"Certification is something new to Microsoft," Kusnetzky said. "In one sense, you could say Microsoft is to be applauded for stepping up to this because it's a requirement to get into the enterprise computing room, and on the other hand, you could say, 'Why did it take them so long?' "
Lack of certification does not mean an application won't run on Windows 2000. Certification, however, ensures a smooth transition to an application from previous versions, among other things.
This is the first time Microsoft has instituted such a certification program for Windows. Some IT managers are stressing the importance of the issue.
"If applications critical to our business couldn't be certified, we wouldn't purchase [Windows 2000]," said Bill Parrot, senior technical manager of network computing services at Trans World Airlines, in Kansas City, Missouri.
"Our policy is we don't put anything in production that hasn't been tested for our business," added Rick Deans, chief architect and director of computing services for Texaco Global Information Services, in Bellaire, Texas.
The certification process has sped up significantly since Microsoft released to manufacturing the final operating system code on December 15, according to Peter Ollodart, group manager of Windows marketing, in Redmond, Washington.
"Our labs are jammed," Ollodart said, referring to the three VeriTest test sites in Los Angeles, Paris and Tokyo. "I thought it would be a slow burn, but we're getting a fair amount of unexpected demand."
Among the applications not certified is Microsoft's own Office 2000. The company is in the process of certifying it, and Service Release 1 is expected in February or March, Ollodart said.
One analyst, Rob Enderle of Giga Information Group, in Santa Clara, California, called this a non-issue, saying "the risk is almost nonexistent" that Office 2000 would not work on Windows 2000 because it is built by the same vendor.
Enderle considers 40 certified applications a "low" number and attributes it to third-party companies' attention on year 2000 issues.
In fact, he said he is "99 percent sure" that Microsoft will top that number by the ship date. "Microsoft is being relatively conservative because they're anticipating that software developers are going to have Y2K problems, which may delay certification efforts," he said. "Y2K is a legitimate reason to be conservative."
Lotus Development's office productivity suite, SmartSuite, will not be certified for Windows 2000 Professional because the certification process is too expensive, said a spokeswoman for the IBM subsidiary, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.