Recently I've talked about moving to the next Windows server operating system, which will probably be called "Microsoft Windows .Net Server 2003." Let's shorten that to Win2K3 so we don't spend all day trying to get the words out. Today, I want to talk a little what migration to Win2K3 will mean to the desktop operating system your users are using.
Many of you will have standardized on Windows 2000 Professional or Windows XP Professional for your users, and that's a good choice. Others might still have Windows NT 4 Professional, which you should plan on replacing fairly soon - probably before installing Win2K3 servers. I'm sure there are some of you, though, with Windows 9x and Windows ME operating systems on your users' desktops. Those should absolutely be upgraded before introducing Win2K3. In fact, they should be upgraded whether or not you are going to Win2K3 on your servers.
Win 9x/ME are not designed for enterprise networking in an Active Directory environment - they are security and stability problems waiting to make your life more difficult than it has to be. Get rid of them now. Otherwise you'll most likely encounter odd and mysterious activities, bugs and crashes when you implement your Win2K3 servers. Heck, you might already have encountered them with Win 2000 servers.
Bookmark the Win2K3 Resource Kit Web site. It's not complete yet, but there's still a boatload of information available. In particular there's not a lot of information available about client deployment. That may be because Win2K3 only comes in a server version (as we talked about in last week's newsletters). But you'll still want to try different desktop operating system versions with your lab test setup for Win2K3 servers just to see if there are any "out of the box" problems.
Still, the best idea is to move your desktops up to Windows XP Professional (the latest version of the enterprise desktop operating systems) as soon as you reasonably can. This will minimize your work in maintaining the network while giving your users access to all that Windows .Net Server 2003 (a.k.a. Win2K3) can offer.