Windows 2000: Meeting the Needs of Small Businesses

REDMOND, Wash., March 22, 2000 — For a small business like Dream House Software Inc., keeping the computers running around the clock is a top priority. Because the Orinda, Calif.-based developer depends heavily on the Internet and outsources most of its support and infrastructure, it needs an operating system it can rely on — one that lets it coordinate with all of its partners, regardless of their locations, and preserves essential data during development cycles without frequent system crashes and reboots. With these conditions in mind, Dream House Software decided to deploy the Windows 2000 Professional operating system on the new desktops and laptops in its peer-to-peer network so that it could ensure its business would run smoothly and efficiently.

Dream House Software’s eight employees develop innovative software for handheld devices that let consumers remotely monitor and control their homes, access data from their personal computers and store photos of everything from family members to business products and real estate. According to Alan Finke, president of Dream House Software, Windows 2000 Professional makes daily operations at the company more efficient and allows its developers to be more productive.

“If you build applications on a reliable system, then you’re going to be much more productive and get your solutions to market more quickly,”
Finke said.
“We run our entire business from our desktops, so reliability is of paramount importance to us. Windows 2000 is the most stable operating system we’ve seen.”

Like Dream House Software, many small businesses are turning to Windows 2000 Professional because it gives them the reliability they need. On comparative reliability tests conducted by ZD Labs, the average system uptime of Windows 2000 Professional was over 17 times that of Windows NT Workstation 4.0 and 50 times that of Windows 98.

Windows 2000 Professional achieves this level of reliability by minimizing system crashes and reducing
“planned reboots,”
those times when you have to restart your computers after installing new hardware or software. It also protects against user error by keeping users from accidentally removing essential system files. And it stops errant applications from replacing system files with their own versions, so that one program doesn’t have an adverse effect on another.

“Most small businesses don’t have IT professionals in-house, and it is costly and time-consuming to hire a consultant who can troubleshoot their systems,”
said Keith White, director of marketing at Microsoft.
“The small businesses that are running Windows 2000 Professional are incredibly enthusiastic about the operating system because it is so reliable. They’re not always rebooting, the system is just up and running and they can count on it to support their businesses.”

Windows 2000 Meets Mission-Critical Criteria

Small businesses need many of the same benefits that larger companies need from an operating system, but their IT resources are much more limited. Not only do they typically lack someone on staff who can maintain systems and fix them when they are down, they often don’t have anyone available who has the expertise or the time to teach employees how to use software. These businesses, even more than their larger counterparts, need an operating system that is reliable and easy to use and manage. And with increasing numbers of small businesses relying on mobile computing and the Internet, they also need an operating system that supports laptops and is Internet-ready.

Windows 2000 Professional, Windows 2000 Server and Windows 2000 Advanced Server, either individually or as a complete IT platform, are designed to provide a simple but powerful foundation that helps businesses of all sizes reduce their total cost of ownership.

Windows 2000 Professional, a desktop and laptop operating system for businesses of all sizes, builds on the reliability and security of the Windows NT operating system and integrates the ease of use of Windows 98. With advanced features for mobile computing and extensive integration with the Internet, it helps users work more effectively, in or out of the office.

Windows 2000 Server, a multipurpose network operating system designed for businesses of all sizes, features enhancements and improvements that make the operating system more stable and easier to deploy and use. It also has built-in Web, security and communication technologies that make Windows 2000 Server an Internet-enabled platform on which companies of all sizes can build their e-business strategies.

For the Plaza Group, a petrochemical marketing company based in Houston, Windows 2000 platform, which includes Windows 2000 desktops and Windows 2000 Server, has noticeably improved the reliability of its network infrastructure and is helping the company execute a first-rate e-commerce strategy.

“Our customers depend on us to deliver products on time, on spec and to the right location. So our computer systems must be reliable, user friendly and cost effective,”
said Randy Velarde, president of the $100 million company.
“Since deploying Windows 2000, we’ve found it to be nothing but reliable, fast and efficient.”

The Plaza Group plans in the near future to launch an e-commerce site that will provide yet another channel for the company to do business with its customers, and Velarde said he looks to Windows 2000 to pave the way.

Both Windows 2000 Professional and the Windows 2000 server family are designed to make it easier for organizations to embrace the Internet. For example, Windows 2000 Professional is tightly integrated with the Internet Explorer browser and contains a variety of graphical tools to help users customize the way they connect and exchange information. And Windows 2000 Server has built-in Web, security and communication technologies, and is designed to scale and efficiently handle the demands of Internet traffic.

Ease of Use and Mobile Features Also Top the List

Small businesses also are finding that Windows 2000 is as easy to use and manage as it is reliable. Both Dream House Software and the Plaza Group were able to integrate Windows 2000 into their existing infrastructure within a few days and without any major hassles.

Because Windows 2000 Professional has the same basic user interface, albeit improved, as Windows 95 and 98, it requires little additional training. And because it works with Windows NT Server, Novell NetWare and UNIX platforms, it can be integrated into an existing infrastructure quickly and easily. Desktops running Windows 2000 Professional also can be connected to other PCs running earlier versions of Windows via a peer-to-peer configuration — an indispensable feature, according to Finke.

“Because we develop software that must run on all of the Windows desktop operating systems, our network is a hodgepodge of computers with different capabilities that must all work together,”
said Finke.
“Windows 2000 seamlessly integrates into our existing environment.”

What surprised Dream House Software most, however, was the accelerated application and Internet access speed of Windows 2000 Professional once it was up and running. In the same comparative reliability tests that showed Windows 2000 to be so much more reliable than Windows 95 and Windows 98, ZD Labs also found Windows 2000 to be 25 percent faster than Windows 95 and Windows 98 on systems with 64 MB and 128MB of RAM.

“We didn’t expect the speed, especially when accessing complex and multimedia-rich Web sites,”
said Finke.

Supporting the Mobile Workforce

Laptop computers give employees in any size business the ability to be productive away from the office. But high power requirements coupled with low battery life, as well as time-consuming reboots and connect times can limit how much mobile workers can actually accomplish away from the network.

Windows 2000 is designed to make mobile computing a lot easier and more productive, and according to Bruce Saldinger, vice president of business development for Dream House Software, it’s one of the best things about the operating system.

Saldinger is frequently away from the office on business trips and relies on his laptop all the time. What makes Windows 2000 Professional great for mobile use, he said, is the system’s Advanced Power Management feature.
“I have a full-featured laptop that sucks the battery dry in no time. The Advanced Power Management feature in Windows 2000 extends the life of the battery, so that I can use my laptop much longer while I’m away from a power source.”

“hot docking”
feature of Windows 2000 Professional is another of Saldinger’s favorites. It lets users dock and undock their laptops without having to power them down and then back up again.
“Hot docking makes it really easy to decide whether to take my laptop to meetings,”
he said.

Windows 2000 Professional also lets users access network files and favorite Web sites even when they are working offline, allowing them to be more productive anytime and anywhere. It also features added peripheral supports through Plug and Play technology, which minimizes the time users must spend adding hardware devices and PC systems.

Windows 2000 Moving Forward

Dream House Software is expected to double in size in the coming year. That means the company will add a lot more desktops and more staff. In addition, the company’s strategy moving forward includes developing a Web-based component for linking handheld devices to the Internet. With all of these developments, Windows 2000 will play a key role, according to Finke.

“With a reliable and simple system like Windows 2000, we can spend more time actually developing software that makes people’s lives easier and brings them closer together, rather than spending a lot of time troubleshooting our systems,”
said Finke.

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