Windows 2000 (W2K) is a est commercial version of Microsoft's evolving Windows operating system. Previously called Windows NT 5.0, Microsoft emphasizes that Windows 2000 is evolutionary and "Built on NT Technology." Windows 2000 is designed to appeal to small business and professional users as well as to the more technical and larger business market for which the NT was designed.
The Windows 2000 product line consists of four products:
- Windows 2000 Professional, aimed at individuals and businesses of all sizes. It includes security and mobile use enhancements. It is the most economical choice.
- Windows 2000 Server, aimed at small-to-medium size businesses. It can function as a Web server and/or a workgroup (or branch office) server. It can be part of a two-way symmetric multiprocessing system. NT 4.0 servers can be upgraded to this server.
- Windows 2000 Advanced Server, aimed at being a network operating system server and/or an application server, including those involving large databases. This server facilitates clustering and load-balancing. NT 4.0 servers with up to eight-way SMP can upgrade to this product.
- Windows 2000 Datacenter Server, designed for large data warehouses, online transaction processing (OLTP), econometric analysis, and other applications requiring high-speed computation and large databases. The Datacenter Server supports up to 16-way SMP and up to 64 gigabytes of physical memory.
Windows 2000 is reported to be more stable (less apt to crash) than Windows 98/NT systems. A significant new feature is Microsoft's Active Directory, which, among other capabilities, enables a company to set up virtual private networks, to encrypt data locally or on the network, and to give users access to shared files in a consistent way from any network computer.