Whistler, Microsoft's follow-on release to its Windows 2000 operating system, is likely to be late and will not improve enterprise functionality, according to analyst Gartner.
Tom Bittman, research director at Gartner, said Whistler would be dominated by consumer needs and that its delivery date, expected to be late 2001, might slip to 2002, particularly for server products.
According to research presented at Gartner's autumn Symposium/ITxpo in Florida last week, by 2002 companies that skipped Windows 2000 and decided to wait for Whistler may have second thoughts and wait for the follow-up release, code-named Blackcomb. But this could leave users facing serious support problems.
Mike Silver, also a research director at Gartner, said: "While Gartner views Whistler as a minor release that will be little more than a service pack for the Windows 2000 operating system, we expect Blackcomb to be a major release. It may have user interface implications and may necessitate a relatively quick migration because of user co-existence issues."
In addition, if Blackcomb is delayed, companies may be forced to keep Windows 98 and NT4 beyond 2004, by which time support for those platforms will be dropped by Microsoft, said Silver.
According to Gartner, even if Whistler was to meet its release date, the system would "not be compelling" to enterprise users.
It would be prudent for companies to upgrade users gradually and accept having a mixed client environment, rather than going for a migration of all machines at the same time, said Silver.
By the end of next year, Gartner predicts that 30 to 40 per cent of Windows servers will be on Windows 2000. Companies should phase out Windows 95 by about the end of 2002, and investment in Novell's products and services will be viable until the end of 2004, said Silver.
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