SAN FRANCISCO (04/19/2000) - Mac users most likely took little notice of Microsoft Corp.'s (425/882-8080, http://www.microsoft.com) splashy launch of Windows 2000. After all, the new operating system caters to the high-end computer-network market-not exactly the home turf of Apple Computer Inc.'s Mac OS.
Still, Mac users on networks run by Windows NT Server 4.0 may have reason to welcome Windows 2000. Microsoft promises that Windows 2000 Server will provide easier-to-manage file sharing and remote access for Mac users. Cross-platform networking specialists call the upgrade's Mac support a big improvement over what NT offers.
Corporate networks commonly include Macs, and Windows NT is often the server of choice. "There are probably just as many Macs connected to NT servers as there are connected to AppleShare," notes John Rizzo, editor of the cross-platform integration Web site MacWindows.com.
Windows Dressing? Still, NT Server 4.0 had a few problems supporting the Mac.
Early tests of Windows 2000 Server indicate that it corrects those flaws. For example, Windows 2000 supports Apple File Protocol over TCP/IP, whereas Windows NT allows Mac clients to share files only through AppleTalk. The addition of TCP/IP support via Windows 2000's MacFile feature makes it easier for Mac users to share files, Microsoft says. There's also the potential for faster data-transfer speeds with TCP/IP.
Another new feature, MacPrint, lets Mac users send documents to printers connected to a computer running Windows 2000 Server. Windows 2000 users can also send documents to printers on an AppleTalk network.
With Windows NT, Mac users couldn't dial in to the server and access the network remotely. Windows 2000 Server fixes that by letting Mac users dial in using the Mac OS's Remote Access control panel. The upgrade also fixes a bug in Windows NT that incorrectly reported the size and remaining space of volumes mounted on a Mac. Windows 2000 Server also offers consistent security for Mac and PC users across a network-a benefit for network managers, Rizzo says.
Even with those benefits, though, not every network administrator will rush to upgrade. Besides using more memory than Windows NT, the new operating system may have some glitches to overcome-as many as 63,000 bugs, according to an internal Microsoft memo. "Once that's shaken out, I do think Windows 2000 Server will benefit Mac users," Rizzo says.
Microsoft is selling Windows 2000 Server with ten-client access licenses for $1,199. The advanced version of the server sells for $3,999. Upgrades cost $599.