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Windows 2000 Server was released on February 17, 2000 to replace Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 offers many system-wide improvements over its predecessor. It provides application development services as well as connectivity, file and storage management enhancements, in addition to reliability, scalability, security, systems management and Web integration improvements. The next Windows iteration, Windows Server 2003, is slated for April 2003. This version is expected to be a significant but incremental upgrade compared with the huge revamp that took place in the upgrade from Windows NT to Windows 2000.

Windows 2000 Server is a multipurpose network operating system. It is available in three versions, each geared toward variously sized organizations and applications:

  • Windows 2000 Server—an entry-level server designed for use in small and midsize businesses as a file, print, intranet and infrastructure server.
  • Windows 2000 Advanced Server—designed for line-of-business applications and e-commerce, Advanced Server contains all the functionality and reliability of the entry-level version of Windows 2000 Server, plus additional features, such as clustering and network load balancing for applications that require higher levels of scalability and availability. It is suitable for departmental applications, such as networking, messaging, inventory and customer service systems, databases and e-commerce Web sites.
  • Windows 2000 Datacenter Server—designed to support more than 10,000 simultaneous users in a variety of technical and data-intensive environments, including data warehousing, econometric analysis, large-scale engineering and science simulations, online transaction processing (OLTP), server consolidation, and Internet service provider (ISP) and site hosting. This version is available through OEM channels only.

This report concentrates on Windows 2000 Server and Windows 2000 Advanced server. For more information on Windows 2000 Datacenter Server, see the Gartner report "Microsoft Windows 2000 Datacenter Server Operating System" by Mary Hubley.

Windows 2000 Server is used for workgroup file, print and communication servers. Among Windows 2000 Server's application services are Component Object Model+ (COM+), message and transaction queuing and support for Extensible Markup Language (XML). It incorporates Kerberos v.5, Internet Protocol security (IPSec) and public key infrastructure (PKI) security. With the Microsoft Management Console (MMC), administrators can manage operating system and Web components through a single consistent interface. Microsoft's directory service, Active Directory, which serves as a centralized repository for user log-in, group, network resource, security and user management information, can be made available to other applications, directories and devices through LDAP, ADSI and MAPI. The "Features and Functions" table lists the major features and functions of the Windows 2000 family of servers.

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