Ok, Win 2000 Still Needs Polish

Microsoft Senior Vice President Jim Allchin, who is heading up the development of Windows 2000, acknowledged on Wednesday that the just-released Beta 3, although feature-complete, needs plenty of work before it can be considered a finished product.

In an interview with the representatives from the Gartner Group that wrapped up the analysts' "NT in the Enterprise" conference, the Microsoft executive also expressed a little dismay at the notoriety of the Linux operating system. And he said that although the company strives to integrate products, platform teams often try to avoid integration as much as possible. Allchin would not comment on when the next-generation client/server operating system will be complete. And although he was candid about NT technology's "many weaknesses," saying that the number of bugs "is very high," he nonetheless characterized the product as the most important in Microsoft's history.

"Beta 3 is more solid than any [operating system] we've ever shipped," Allchin told conference-goers. "In our stress tests, it performs better than NT 4.0 with Service Pack 4."

Pushing Reliability
Allchin outlined four areas that he focuses on when developing software: reliability, Internet services, management, and simplicity. Windows 2000 addresses reliability and the Internet, Allchin said, but post-Windows 2000 versions would have to focus on simplicity and manageability. A next-generation project that is code-named Neptune, a consumer-oriented operating system first shown off publicly in July 1997, will focus on user interface enhancements, and take multitasking to a higher level, he said.

Linux Liabilities
When Gartner group analyst Michael Gartenberg asked whether the popularity of the open-source Linux operating system was "a referendum on Microsoft," Allchin responded, "Linux is Unix. I don't consider it to be very innovative."

Allchin said that although Linux momentum could be traced in part to unfavorable perceptions about Microsoft, "it's not something I'm sitting here super-worried about, either."

"The profit motive will end up ruining and tarnishing the altruism people use to promote this thing," Allchin said.

Integration Issues
Allchin disputed the notion that by constantly integrating more functionality into Windows, Microsoft hurts third-party vendors that build specific tools and utilities.

Indeed, Allchin said the company's first impulse is to say "keep it out [of Windows]; we don't want it." However, customers often request that Microsoft build something itself because they are not happy with what third parties offer.

In other instances, Allchin said, integration makes sense. As an example, he mentioned blending the Internet Explorer browser into Windows, a bone of contention in the antitrust case filed by the federal government against Microsoft.

Allchin also commented on how Microsoft often gets a bad rap for a perceived lack of innovation. Allchin ticked off some Microsoft innovations, including kernel enhancements and telephony features in Windows 2000, but added that there was nothing wrong with "standing on the shoulders of giants" and adopting good ideas developed by others.


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