Windows ME Gets Re-Networked

SAN MATEO (04/24/2000) - After surreptitiously removing some networking features from Windows Millennium Edition (ME) in March, including connections to Novell NetWare and a proposed client for Active Directory, Microsoft Corp. last week returned some, but not all, of the missing capabilities.

The company has now put back support for NetWare -- a decision that was due to "customer feedback throughout the beta testing process," according to a Microsoft spokesman -- but still missing is Windows ME support for Active Directory. The spokesman said that "Microsoft is evaluating providing an Active Directory client for Windows ME, but a final decision has yet to be made."

Microsoft has an Active Directory client for Windows 95 and 98 but has stressed that Windows ME is intended specifically for the home, which many believe is the reason for the lack of Active Directory support.

However, for IT managers running the Windows 9x family on the desktop, the decision still limits their upgrade options.

"This puts us in kind of a tough spot," said an IT administrator of a shipping company, who requested anonymity. "A lot of us out there are running [Windows] 98 or 95 and we're kind of being shoved toward Windows 2000 whether we like it or not."

Al Gillen, a research manager for server infrastructure software at IDC, in Framingham, Mass., noted that even the existing Active Directory support in the Windows 9x family does not provide full features of the Windows 2000 client.

"You cannot manage the desktop, you cannot drive policies onto that system [like you can on a Windows 2000 client]," Gillen said. "The client software they have made available for Windows 95 and 98 ... basically just allows you a better view into the [Active Directory] tree to see what's going on in there and what services are available."

The IT administrator said he will take a hard look at Windows ME before figuring out his upgrade plans.

"I'll have to see what Windows ME offers when it comes out," he commented. "If we can get it to do what we want, with or without whatever network connections it offers, that will be great. If not, I guess we'll have to look for another solution."

Microsoft Corp., in Redmond, Washington, is at www.microsoft.com.

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