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Microsoft to Move Hotmail to Windows 2000

August 3, 2000 

Microsoft's free email service, Hotmail, currently boasts 30 million subscribers. But lately it's been plagued with outages and security problems. In a "go for broke" move, Microsoft will transition its more than 3,000 email servers from the Unix-based FreeBSD operating system (OS) to Microsoft's own Windows 2000.

If it works it will be a great PR coup. But I'm thinking that you should move your email account to Yahoo!, Rocketmail, or another free service for a few months. I'm thinking there's a good chance that Hotmail will bite the dust a few times before it all gets sorted out.

Reviews from system administrators about the stability of Windows 2000 are mixed at best. It's a great system to learn, because it's got Microsoft's imprimatur, and that means there's consulting work associated with it — some businesses buy Microsoft products the way they used to by IBM's — purely because they don't want to think outside the box.

Microsoft has been ribbed for running it's leading free email system on a competitor's OS, so I figure it's a testosterone move: get the system running on our own OS.

What they're missing is that FreeBSD is a great OS. It's been around a long time, and there's lots of technical folks who know how to keep it running well.

And I'd think Microsoft would learn from it's earlier mistake. Back in '97 it tried to migrate Hotmail to Windows NT. The project got so royally hung up, they put the FreeBSD servers back online and scrapped their own Windows NT systems. Now, here we are three years later — well, let's just say I'm not willing to sell my front row tickets to this show.

I hate to see a great company fall down in public, and I'm a big fan of Microsoft's applications — they're pretty easy to use, and they keep business users humming along. But in general, most Unix servers are more stable than Windows NT/2000 servers. The Windows servers just have too much OS overhead.

I've got my seat, popcorn in hand. Somebody dim the houselights.

Dave Murphy,

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