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its first release back in 1993, Windows NT Server
was, arguably, the first networking operating system
whose main focus was ease of use. When it was released
as a partner product with Windows 3.1, Windows was
the standard operating system for the vast majority
of PC users and the new NT setup requirements were
not considered too difficult. Because of that, it
was easy for many users and companies to take the
next step to a more powerful, more robust operating
system. NT is easier to administer than a UNIX based
OS and allowed for a lower level of technical expertise.
Unfortunately, as Microsoft aims NT at the same market
segment now occupied by UNIX, it becomes more complex
and correspondingly more difficult to administer.
Microsoft's Windows NT provides a full GUI (Graphical
User Interface) for the bulk of its setup configurations.
Unlike many OS (except perhaps for the Windows 9x
series) Windows NT setup comes in twos. The first
pass, copies the bulk of files needed for installation
to the hard drive. The second run through, the actual
installation is performed. Windows NT, unlike its
Windows 9x predecessors, does not support plug and
play applications, but it does support auto-detection.
On the other hand, Windows 2000, the latest NT version,
supports Plug and Play with even more hardware support
than Windows 98 second edition.
Windows NT is compatible with Intel and RISC processors,
thus allowing for expanded platform support. However,
just because NT works with RISCs doesn't necessarily
mean its applications do. When buying a dedicated
server that happens to have a RISC platform, make
sure that all pertinent applications work with it.
Windows NT is a good OS with a lot of well thought
out features. Many of its downsides can be easily
fixed. Microsoft usually posts service packs in the
case of known security problems. When adding protocols
to a NT server, make sure a backup server is up and
running to carry the slack of the down computer when
restarting is required.
When choosing NT for your web site, make sure your
vendor understands the ins and outs of the OS and
are competent in their job to administer the inner
workings. When choosing a dedicated server OS, Windows
NT makes sense if you have a great deal of Windows
compatible applications, documents, and forms and
changing over to another system would not only waste
money, but waste time in learning new applications.
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