Windows 2000 - One step nearer to launch?

Signs from Novell that long-awaited Windows 2000 is revving up for launch.

Windows 2000 must be getting closer to shipping. The latest sign: Novell has begun beta testing its Windows 2000 client for NetWare servers.

Novell routinely develops clients for desktop operating systems from Microsoft and other vendors. In the past it has developed clients for Windows 95, Windows 98 and NT Workstation 4.0. "We have customers testing and planning to use Windows 2000 and our client will make sure they can access their NetWare networks properly," explains Michael Bryant, director of NetWare marketing.

On Aug. 3 Novell began private tests of its Windows 2000 client among some of its top customers and systems. It said it intends to test the product more broadly in late August or early September.

Sources close to the company say Novell is aiming to ship its Windows 2000 client commercially 30 to 60 days after Microsoft goes gold with Windows 2000. In the past, Novell has made its clients available for download and available via its own channel. Microsoft, for its part, has said it is on target to deliver Windows 2000 to manufacturing by the end of this year meaning it will begin shipping commercially late this year, or more likely, early in 2000.

Novell's beta parade Novell's Windows 2000 client is only one of several new products that Novell recently has put into beta testing. The company is in the midst of publicly beta testing its GroupWise Plug-In for Microsoft Outlook 98. It is also publicly testing Novell Net Publisher, a Novell Directory Services-enabled product that lets users manage and publish Web site content.

Novell is engaged in closed, private beta tests on several fronts as well. Beta testers are working with NetWare 5 Support Pack 3. This pack will include a number of relatively minor fixes, such as updated licensing service and Java Virtual Machine files. It also will include an updated version of TCP/IP.

Testers also are working with a beta version of a new multi-server analysis, maintenance and configuration tool called Onsite Admin Pro. The tool will be targeted at NetWare server administrators -- it will enable a "one-click" FTP update feature designed to keep current all the software versions on a particular machine.