Our friends in Redmond have created another desktop/server operating system called Windows XP. Apparently this stands for Windows eXPerience. I’m just hoping this experience is going to be better than the sum of all the prior experiences with Windows. Lets see, we now have Windows 3.x, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT (Server and Workstation), Windows 2000 (Professional, Server, Advanced Server and Enterprise), Windows ME, Windows CE and Windows XP (Professional and Home). In my small office in Phoenix, we use four of the named operating systems.
Obviously this represents a logical progression of functionality spanning about ten years and is typical of other operating system providers. So, lets see, Apple Macintosh in its lifetime has had two, the second just hit the stores last month. That’s a bad example because Apple doesn’t really cater to the business community.
Bell Labs developed Unix in the 1960s. While a number of variants have been developed, within any one variant, a program that ran 20 years ago will still likely execute correctly today on the most current version. Unix continues to be noted as the operating system that continuously develops without changing the base design of the operating system. I guess this is another bad example because this operating system is for the techies and should not be compared to a desktop operating system.
I could go on, but it just seems a bit odd that Microsoft continues to give us new and better versions of Windows that are often incompatible with the prior versions. So what should your bank do with all these choices?
First of all, your investment in the Wintel technology is large and cannot reasonably be written off. My guess is that you’ve got a mixture, like I do in my office, of Windows operating systems. You’ve probably got users who are already asking when they can get the new XP operating system.
XP is another flavor of NT, I guess you could call it NT 5.5. The underlying system is NT 5.0, a.k.a. Windows 2000, with an updated user interface. Should you go out and replace your existing Windows 9x systems? If your desktop systems are stable and working well, leave them alone. The cost to replace a desktop with XP will take your breath away.
First, you will need a fast processor (1.0 gigahertz or better), lots of memory (256 megabytes or better) and loads of disk space (20 gigabytes or better). This product is a monster and requires a monster machine to take advantage of it. XP itself will be another $300 or so, depending on quantity.
What you will get for this expenditure is a more reliable version of Windows with better security and remote management capabilities. The IT guys love it because it is easier to control what the user can and cannot do.
So what about my servers, you ask? Since this is already a big machine, the advantages for upgrading to the Windows 2000 server family are numerous. If you don’t have plans for moving NT 4.0 to NT 5.0, you should be moving in that direction. They are substantially more stable, produce fewer blue screens of death, perform better and are easier to maintain. This change is worth the money.
Eventually, you will need to update the desktop, but XP is not the answer for your operating system prayers, “Now I lay me down to compute…” -cf