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Interview with Art Pettigrue,  Product Manager: Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition (Me) What features does Windows Me have that make it a stepping-stone towards a consumer OS based on the Windows 2000 kernel and not Win 9x?

Art Pettigrue: Our goal for the holiday season 2001 is to deliver a Windows 2000-based OS for consumers. We made significant steps in Windows Me, particularly in the areas of PC Health, to lay a solid foundation that has aimed us in the right direction.  For instance, Windows Me includes advanced features such as:

  • Removal of Real Mode DOS.  With the removal of “Real Mode” code, which was an older environment that MS-DOS® operating system-based programs ran in, the Windows Me start-up (or “boot”) process is simpler, faster and more reliable. Windows Me utilizes a modern environment (called “Protect Mode”) exclusively.  This environment provides a more reliable way for applications and the operating system to work together.  
  • System File Protection (SFP). SFP provides users with a more reliable operating environment by proactively and “silently” preventing problems before they occur. SFP prevents the accidental or unauthorized overwriting of system files (e.g., DLLS and INFS) and helps keep the system stable. For example, a common problem for home users today occurs when they install a new application on their PC. The application may attempt to overwrite a current system file with an older, outdated system file or even an altered system file that has been optimized to work with that particular application. This can affect the system’s stability or cause other applications that depend on the same system file to stop working normally. System File Protection improves the user experience by preserving the correct system file and keeping the system stable and the programs working properly.
  • Driver Signing We continue to work with independent hardware vendors to ensure that users of Windows Me will enjoy increased stability when using the main classes of devices that cause the most problems for home PC users today, including audio and display devices. By working with industry partners to ensure that drivers are tested and certified to run well in Windows, and by giving Windows Me the ability to recognize certified drivers, Microsoft is working to ensure that home PC users will enjoy increased performance and reliability. A lot of people say that they are worried by the folders and filenames that appear in caps. Is this a bug or a feature? If it is a bug do you plan to fix it?

Art Pettigrue: Worried?  Really?  We did not receive a significant amount of feedback on this during the beta testing process.  I guess I’d need a better understanding of what they are worried about.  The name and character set of the file names does not have an affect on the system. What are the goals of the new system file protection features? Will these features ease consumer users' troubles in the future?

Art Pettigrue: This feature protects the operating system from being accidentally damaged or overwritten by a user or by any application or driver. How are the new UPnP (Universal Plug & Play) standards set to benefit users?

Art Pettigrue: Universal Plug and Play enables devices within a home, office and everywhere in between to communicate and share resources simply and automatically.  UPnP uses Internet protocols to seamlessly connect PCs, intelligent appliances, and wireless devices over a network.  For example, a UPnP-enabled clock radio and a UPnP-enabled thermostat could automatically communicate over the network and perform functions like turning on the furnace before you wake up. With this added convenience your home is warm and cozy before the alarm goes off each morning, even if you wake up earlier than normal.  It’s all about convenience, fun and getting more mileage out of the devices and appliances in your home. It all adds up to giving some time back to consumers. How long was the development time of Windows Me? Did you overcome any setbacks or set any milestones? How many people were on the development team?

Art Pettigrue: Windows Me took a little over a year to develop, test and release.  We had multiple beta milestones during the project and released builds almost weekly to our beta sites.  There were well over 1,000 people on the Millennium development team.  Many teams around Microsoft contributed to the Windows Millennium product. Why is the hibernation feature of Windows Me so sensitive? Were you expecting some compatibility problems with this feature when it was in development?

Art Pettigrue: The hibernate feature is only present on new PCs.  It will not be present in Retail versions.  The reason is simple: There are a lot of prerequisites for hibernation to work properly that may not have been available when older machines were purchased.

This feature will enable home PC users to stop and start their PCs faster and return instantly to where they left off. When users are finished using their PCs, they can select “hibernate,” rather than “shut down.” The hibernate feature takes a snapshot of the current state of the PC, recording which applications and documents were open, saves that information to the hard disk, and quickly powers off. When the user next uses the PC, the PC will respond faster (compared with starting from shut-down mode) and will restore the PC to the previous state. This feature will enable home users to enjoy increased responsiveness and convenience from their computers. What was your main goal for consumers with the release of Windows Me?

Art Pettigrue: Our main goal was to deliver a timely update for people who want to take advantage of the richness of the digital world. Based on the feedback from home users, we are delivering on this goal by focusing on the four key areas they told us were most important to them:

  • Digital Media:  Windows Me makes it easy – even for a beginner – to create, share, store and edit photographs and movies.

  •    Home Networking:  With Windows Me, all kinds of devices can be connected – other PC’s, digital music players, digital cameras and camcorders, and new intelligent devices that will be available soon.

  • PC Health:  Windows Me makes the whole PC experience more simple.  If something goes wrong, it’s easy to trouble-shoot and fix.

  • The Online Experience:  Windows Me helps everyone – from the advanced PC user to the beginner.  It’s easier now to get on the Internet and take advantage of all the services it has to offer. Do you expect a lot of hardware companies to start producing drivers worthy of being digitally signed for Windows Me?

Art Pettigrue: We have been working closely with IHV’s sense the early development stages of the product.  We will continue to work very hard in this area. Are there any features that you would have liked to have added to the operating system but didn't? If so, what was excluded?

Art Pettigrue: Personally, I’m still dreaming of a Jetsons-like Windows PC that will fix my breakfast and get me dressed in the morning.  I’d also like it to have Star Trek-like voice recognition, but we’re not quite there yet.  Seriously though, we are working hard on things like voice recognition and text-to-speech technologies that didn’t make it into Windows Me. What was your favorite moment during the development of this operating system? What is your favorite feature of Windows Me?

Art Pettigrue: There were so many great moments during the development of Windows Millennium.  We were a close-knit team who had worked well together in the past to deliver Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition and now Windows Me.  We had people walking around in pink bunny suites, blue name it and it happened.  The day we finally released to manufacturing was a wonderful time for the entire team.  It was the conclusion of an exciting year and a time for all of us to celebrate releasing a great product.

My personal favorite feature is Movie Maker.  I love the fact that all my home videos, VHS, 8mm, as well as digital, which have been collecting dust over the years, can easily be shared with friends and family anywhere in the world. How is the System Restore feature set to help users?

Art Pettigrue: The System Restore feature provides a safety net for Windows Me users, enabling them to easily restore their system. If users experience a problem that prevents their PC from operating normally, System Restore can provide them with the ability to easily “roll back” their PC to a state of normal operation so they can more easily determine what caused the problem and, most important, quickly and easily get their PC working again. Users can choose as a restore point a date (such as before the installation of a particular application that caused a problem) or one of the predefined system check points. Many people who haven't seen or used Windows Me are calling it Windows 98 Third Edition, what would you say to try and convince them that it is a much more than just a bug fix this time around?

Art Pettigrue: Windows Me offers significant advances in the areas our customers tell us are very important to them: Digital Media, Home Networking, PC Health and a better overall online experience.  With the incredible explosion of new devices and technologies, many of which weren’t even available as recently as two years ago, Windows Me make is easy to connect, share, play, communicate and learn. Is there an expected Service Pack release for Windows Me? If so, what are some of the features/fixes that will be included?

Art Pettigrue: We don’t plan to release a Service Pack for Windows Me at this stage.  However, with the inclusion of AutoUpdate, the latest enhancements to Windows Me can be obtained automatically.  AutoUpdate provides a simpler way of keeping the PC up to date without requiring users to remember to install updates manually.  AutoUpdate recognizes when a user is online and utilizes moments when the modem is not active (e.g., when a user is reading text on a Web page) to unobtrusively download critical updates to the PC; the update won’t install until the user chooses for it to do so. When the user initiates the modem, AutoUpdate stops the current download to maximize the user’s Internet experience, automatically continuing with the download at the next available moment. When an update package is fully downloaded, AutoUpdate informs the user and provides an opportunity to install the update. AutoUpdate is easily configurable to suit the preferences of each user. This feature provides users with a convenient way to keep their system up to date without having to remember to visit a Web site or wait for downloads. Windows Me comes with an interesting video tool: Windows Movie Maker. Do you plan to regularly update this software like you do for IE & the Windows Media Player 7?

Art Pettigrue: Movie Maker is a feature of Windows Me that will evolve as the OS evolves.  At this point we have no plans to make it available for download. What new features are in WinMe that support processor-heavy desktop gaming? Is there any support for 64-bit processors?

Art Pettigrue: Windows Me is the ultimate PC gaming platform.  Direct X 7.0 is included in the OS, which includes the richest gaming technologies available.  Direct X 7.0 offers excellent graphics, faster frame rates, and more immersive audio when running and displaying programs rich in multimedia elements such as full-color graphics, video, 3-D animation, and surround sound. Do you have anything else to add?

Art Pettigrue: Windows Me was designed solely with the home user in mind.  It is an OS that offers great new features and an even better online experience; so home users can take full advantage of the trends in computing today.  Whether you are a beginner or advanced user, Windows Me has something for everyone.


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