Microsoft Exec Sketches Future for Win 2000

FRAMINGHAM (03/13/2000) - Microsoft Corp. last month released three versions of Windows 2000, "the most important product in our history" according to founder Bill Gates. Now, the company is working on the fourth and final version of the operating system called DataCenter, which will be the high-end server for handling transactions. Microsoft also is working on the first service pack for Win 2000 and is preparing to help IT executives migrate to Active Directory.

Network World Senior Editor John Fontana recently sat down with Brian Valentine, senior vice president of Microsoft's Windows Division, to discuss future plans.

NW: How is the DataCenter version of Win 2000 progressing?

Valentine: It's progressing well, but there is a lag because it's an OEM-delivered product and it takes certified compatible hardware, which is the new standard we are putting in place for how much testing you have to do and how much integration testing you have to do.

NW: So what is the timing for the completion of the software?

Valentine: It's still on track for 120 days after the [Feb. 17] Win 2000 shipment.

NW: What is in the development pipeline now for Win 2000? Where is the innovation, what is going to be new?

Valentine: If you look at what Steve [Ballmer] and Bill [Gates] have been talking about with Next Generation Windows Services, it's a whole service architecture. The question is, what kind of platform you would put in place underneath that architecture. We want that platform to be Windows. We still have to concentrate on the "abilities," so scalability still has to go higher, as does availability, reliability. The other thing is manageability.

NW: When will we see the first Win 2000 service pack?

Valentine: We asked our Joint Development Program [JDP] customers if they wanted them on a regular basis, and they came back and said they want them on a six-month cycle. So we have committed to six-month service packs. The first one might come earlier if we want it to coincide with the DataCenter release. But the standard rule will be six months.

The JDP customers also said they only want bug fixes on the service packs so they will be bug fixes only. We can still put features on the CD, but when you install update. exe, it will not install features. The features will be separate.

NW: How important will it be for IT shops to get Active Directory right the first time?

Valentine: Active Directory is more forgiving than the NT domain architecture was. You can do pruning and grafting and merging of trees. But whenever you are doing an enterprise deployment and planning around something like an Active Directory or common security infrastructure, it does take reasonable planning up front or you can get yourself in a situation where you are not happy. You can adjust things, but it costs to back out - it takes resources.

One of the things we did with the JDP is we documented all those deployments.

We can share the best practices. It's not like people have to pioneer.

NW: What is your big project now?

Valentine: Besides Service Pack 1 and DataCenter, it's 64-bit Windows. Then it's on to the next version of Win 2000, [which will] be an even better Internet hosted platform, better in all its aspects. What we released today [Feb. 17] is not the end of the road by any means. We're also helping move NT technology into the consumer arena.

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