Ballmer: More Work Needed On NT 5 - InformationWeek

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Ballmer: More Work Needed On NT 5

Microsoft wants to imbue Windows NT with the mainframe's strengths, but the delayed NT 5.0 alone won't get the operating system there, Microsoft president Steve Ballmer said last night in a NetWorld+Interop keynote address.

"We want to add the best of the mainframe to Windows NT," he said. "I admit to you that we have a long way to go, but I want to make clear that this is our primary objective." NT 5, which is the company's biggest push yet into the enterprise, will answer some of the concerns about the operating system's scalability, manageability, and performance, he said: "It will give us a quantum leap forward in making the PC enterprise-ready."

But the company has already determined features that are lacking in NT 5 and need to be in next-generation versions of NT. "There's still more to do after NT 5," he said, specifically pointing to better clustering, robust event-management systems, batch tools, operating-system health monitoring, and improved diagnostic tools such as those that IBM has developed for its mainframe platform.

Ballmer also expressed chagrin throughout his speech that NT 5, which should have shipped in the first half of this year, will not ship until at least mid-1999. "It's not going to ship for a while and we're still working on it and I feel terrible--but I'd feel even more terrible if we shipped it before it's ready," he said.

Ballmer said that one of the reasons that NT 5 has lagged behind is that Microsoft continues to add features that it feels the software needs before it's ready for the enterprise. One of those is a technology called IntelliMirror, which replicates desktop files onto the server, providing centralized state management and letting users access their information from any PC.

The Microsoft executive wryly addressed criticisms that NT 5's new launch date will put it too close to the year 2000, when people won't want to upgrade. "It's not genius to ship a new operating system the year before Y2K," he said. "But I'm an optimist. I guess I'm hoping that when everything is frozen down [after Jan. 1, 2000], they'll have time to evaluate NT 5."

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