Most Win2000 bugs beaten: McDonald

Windows 2000 won't have all the bugs stamped out of it when it ships, confesses the man at the centre of the effort to deliver Microsoft's long-overdue new operating system.

In a tell-it-like-it-is speech at Microsoft's Australian TechEd99 conference yesterday, Win2000 project manager Iain McDonald wouldn't even commit himself to a specific completion date.

But he did promise his team will ship Win2000 with only minor bugs left unsquashed in its 27 million lines of code (compared with 16 million lines in predecessor NT 4).

Among other things, McDonald's Win2000 team has dedicated itself to getting rid of NT's dreaded Blue Screen of Death.

"I won't say it is entirely gone but we did a lot of work on why they came up, "McDonald said. It was discovered flaky device drivers running in protected parts of the operating system "formed a very large percentage of the things that were hosing us down".

To remove that threat in Win2000, device drivers are subjected to much more stringent testing before they are allowed into the operating system kernel.

As a result, "in the past eight months, I would have seen one or at most two blue screens compared with one a week at a comparable stage in NT 4," McDonald claimed.

That suggests Win2000 users can look forward to seeing the blue screen of a system crash up to 30 times less frequently than they do with NT.

McDonald's team has also sliced out more than three-quarters of NT reboot scenarios, such as system reconfigurations, and moved against DLL Hell (in which applications cause mayhem by stepping on one another).

Compared with NT 4, where about 92 situations demand a reboot, in Win2000 the number is under 20.

Reliability and ease of management topped the list of user demands for Win2000 and McDonald said the new operating system outperforms all previous releases by a wide margin in both areas.

He nominated Win2000's most significant improvements as Active Directory's advanced user and device management features, the arrival of "self-healing" programs and the new operating system's remote install and management features.

Although Win2000's delivery schedule has slipped by nearly two years, McDonald is unrepentant.

He has a track record for postponing releases until quality considerations are met.

In his previous incarnation as project manager for Exchange Server, for example, "in the last six weeks of Exchange 5.5, I slipped the schedule three weeks".

So while most pundits believe Win2000 will ship in early October, the most McDonald will say is that it will be out "before the end of the year."

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