FRAMINGHAM (04/18/2000) - Tod Nielsen, vice president of Microsoft Corp.'s platform group, opened Comdex/Spring in Chicago this morning with a relaxed, upbeat keynote that extolled the virtues of Windows 2000, hinted at the forthcoming Next Generation Windows Services and joked about Linux.
The opening keynote at Comdex/Spring, delivered last year by Bill Gates, was handed down to Microsoft Senior Vice President Jim Allchin this year. The little-known Nielsen was substituted for Allchin a few days before the show.
Nielsen ran through a number of demonstrations of Windows 2000 and the forthcoming update of Windows 98, Window Me. He addressed the much-hyped business-to-business electronic marketplaces, claiming that despite appearances to the contrary, Microsoft is getting more than its share of that opportunity.
Nielsen demonstrated a new, Windows-powered business-to-business marketplace for the process manufacturing industry, called ProcessPoint. ProcessPoint is based on Windows 2000, Microsoft Exchange and an early version of the company's BizTalk Server 2000, he said.
Nielsen made no reference to the Windows 2000-related security scares of the past week. But he touted the platform's robustness, quoting Stratus Computer Corp.'s announcement on Monday of 99.999% availability (or less than 5 minutes of downtime per year) on certain models of its ftServer systems running Windows 2000.
Nielsen hinted about Next Generation Windows Services, the technology Microsoft is expected to outline at an event called Forum 2000 sometime this spring.
Demonstrating the instant translation of a sentence in a Word document using a Visual Basic routine linked to a translation service on Altavista.com, he predicted that in the future, users will see more of this type of integration with Web services on the back end. He also suggested that users will someday be able to drag the Web addresses of their banks and brokers into their personal finance software and instantly exchange information. Web services such as Microsoft's Passport authentication service will become building blocks for developers, Nielsen said.
If the keynote made anything clear about Microsoft's strategy, it was that the company is focused on Linux as a competitor. Nielsen made several jokes at the expense of the Linux community.
Nielsen described how Microsoft solicited the unwitting help of Linux fans in security-testing Windows 2000 operating as a Web server. He said Microsoft posted a message on a Linux bulletin board that said a Windows 2000 Web server was active, which resulted in thousands of Linux fans attempting to crash the system. Then the attacks ceased when one Linux proponent suggested that they were actually helping Microsoft, claimed Nielsen. But the Linux community resumed its attacks after Microsoft posted a second, taunting message that said the Windows 2000 Web server had been up without interruption for three days.