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Gartner Predicts ‘Sticker Shock’ on W2K Desktop Migration

The route to Windows 2000 will be pricey, an IT analyst house warns.

In research announced today, GartnerGroup (www.gartnergroup.com) predicts the migration from Windows NT Workstation 4.0 to Windows 2000 Professional can cost $1,250 to $2,050 per desktop. Migration from Windows 9x can cost $2,015 to $3,100 per desktop, GartnerGroup finds.

"The major benefit that Microsoft touts with Windows 2000 is to do this for total cost of ownership (TCO)," says Michael Gartenberg, vice president and research director at GartnerGroup. "What we’re saying is, that’s a great argument, except that the cost of migration is so high."

Even if organizations get a $500 to $600 per user per year TCO reduction, Gartenberg says, it would take three to four years to recoup migration costs.

The perception of desktop costs for Windows 2000 is critical to Microsoft Corp. Many industry observers speculate that Microsoft intends to flood enterprises with the desktop version of Windows 2000, then begin to sell Windows 2000 Server to tie those desktops together and bring out some of the biggest TCO reduction benefits of the overhaul to the Windows NT operating system.

GartnerGroup based its model on a 2,500-user, network-connected enterprise. GartnerGroup’s model tries to emulate a typical enterprise by assuming some installed hardware can already support Windows 2000 and other hardware will have to be replaced or upgraded. The cost estimates account for installation and deployment, testing, upgrading packaged software, upgrading hardware and rewriting custom applications.

The model excludes the significant costs related to migration to Windows 2000 Server or the Active Directory, both of which are required to reap the automated management benefits of Windows 2000 desktops.

"The other part that Microsoft neglects to mention is if you just do a desktop update, you don’t get any savings," Gartenberg says. GartnerGroup is working on cost models that account for Windows 2000 Server and Active Directory migrations.

While Windows 2000 includes many new laptop and desktop management features, organizations still must bolster server-side weaknesses of Windows 2000 with additional investments in third-party tools, GartnerGroup maintains. Areas where GartnerGroup says Windows 2000 Server needs help include the Active Directory, security, storage management and server management.

Microsoft responded by highlighting a pair of studies that the company commissioned from the consulting firm Arthur Anderson. The studies -- one on Windows 2000 Professional and the other on Windows 2000 Server -- conclude the upgrades bring a much quicker return on investment, a Microsoft spokeswoman said. Microsoft officials were evaluating GartnerGroup’s methodology and were unable to comment immediately, she said.

GartnerGroup has been consistently conservative about Windows 2000. GartnerGroup analysts recommend organizations carefully evaluate the operating system and hold off deploying it at least until late 2000. --Scott Bekker

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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