Three Minutes with Brian Livingston

SAN FRANCISCO (05/11/2000) - Brian Livingston is author of the Windows Secrets series, including Windows 3.1 Secrets, 2nd Edition; Windows 95 Secrets; Windows 98 Secrets; More Windows 98 Secrets; and the just released Windows 2000 Secrets. He has gained a reputation as one of the foremost Windows gurus. We asked him to share some of the Windows (and Microsoft) secrets he has learned over the years.

PCW: You've been using Windows since the first version of Microsoft Corp.'s operating system, 1.0, was released back in the early 80s. Needless to say, it wasn't a big hit. At what point did people make the pilgrimage to Windows?

LIVINGSTON: Windows didn't really become a usable tool for any company until Windows 3.0. That was the first point that Macintosh-like icons showed up. And Microsoft got rid of the MS DOS Executive and substituted the File Manager, which is very similar to the Windows Explorer that we see today.

PCW: A lot has happened (An antitrust lawsuit, for one.) since that fateful first release of Windows, and even since 3.0 came to market. Now there are other options for consumers, such as Linux, that could spice up the operating system market. How do you think Microsoft plans to compete?

LIVINGSTON: How Microsoft is going to compete against an operating system that's very inexpensive, like Linux, is up to them to determine. Microsoft may announce very deep discounts for clients that they are trying to win [over] to Windows 2000, rather than other operating systems. The price is going to make some companies think twice before converting all of their servers and desktop machines to Windows 2000.

PCW: Microsoft recently announced plans to merge its NT and consumer Windows kernels. That obviously didn't happen in time for Windows 2000. When do you think it will happen?

LIVINGSTON: Microsoft is planning to come out with a product in 2001 code-named Whistler that will be a Windows NT code base, but will run the types of programs that people at home like to run, such as games. Microsoft hoped to do this with Windows 2000 but found that there was no way to let the majority of Windows games run on Windows 2000 without violating its security in some way.

Obviously games were not a high priority for the Windows 2000 development team.

PCW: Aside from the challenges relating to the antitrust suit and other impending lawsuits, what other challenges do you see Microsoft facing in its future?

LIVINGSTON: The challenge for Microsoft is that it is a great company when its people realize their mission is to produce great software. Microsoft falls into mediocrity if it believes that its mission is to sell more Windows. In many situations, Windows is not the ideal solution.

PCW: If for some reason, Microsoft Windows loses its 90-plus percent share of the operating system market, what other options does Microsoft have?

LIVINGSTON: Many people, for example, suggested that Microsoft come out with a branded version of Linux called Microsoft Linux. If Microsoft were to provide excellent installation, set-up, and support for Linux, Microsoft would probably be very successful in the Linux market. But Microsoft probably will not do anything to support Linux.

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