with Nicolas Coudičre, Chief Product Manager: Microsoft Windows
Millennium Edition (Me)
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?
Nicolas Coudičre: Our Goal is to deliver a
NT-based OS for consumers in the coming years. We made a significant
step further in that direction with Windows Millennium Edition by adding
features such as:
- Removal of Real Mode DOS. Given our
objectives in terms of reliability and richness for Consumer
Windows, It had become impossible to maintain compatibility with
Real Mode DOS in Windows Millennium Edition. NT/2000-based OS doesn’t
support it. So this is a significant step towards delivering Windows
2000 reliability to Consumers.
- System File Protection. This feature is key
to what we call “PC Health”. It is the ability for the system to
protect and restore automatically. This is one of the key features
currently implemented in Windows 2000 Professional. It is now also
part of Windows Millennium Edition.
- Windows Driver Model (WDM). WDM is the ONLY
driver model supported by Windows 2000 and its successors.
- Driver Signature. This feature is also key
for NT/2000 architecture. Third parties now have the opportunity to
have their Hardware drivers tested and certified for Windows 2000
and Windows Millennium Edition. Once the driver is certified, it
receives an electronic signature, which ensures that the driver is
totally compliant with Windows. It can be installed without any
problem. Non-signed drivers can still be installed on Windows, but
then, the system will send a warning to the user in order to make
sure the user is aware of the risks of installing non-signed
1.0. Fusion is a dream. The dream that users will never
hear about DLL files anymore. Version 1.0 of Fusion is implemented
in Windows Millennium Edition and Windows 2000. It is the keystone
for System reliability in the next years. Here is some information
regarding Fusion 1.0 (which I wrote in purple).
Fusion 1.0 is a Windows 2000 and
Windows Millennium Edition timeframe solution to make some limited
progress towards fixing DLL Hell. It does not attempt to solve all
the problems, but instead, provide a group of items that will improve
the reliability of a limited set of Windows applications. The
primary beneficiaries are corporate admins followed by component
producers and consumers. Unfortunately, these capabilities don't work in
server application (IIS, MTS, COM+ 1.0) scenarios. The first vehicle for
the full Fusion 1.0 solution is Windows 2000. But Windows Millennium
Edition has some of these features as well.
The key feature important to
developers is that Fusion 1.0 enables you to build your client
application by putting your dependent DLLs into the same directory as
your EXE. All LoadLibrary based activation paths (Win32 dll links,
inproc COM links etc), using fully qualified paths or not, will first
check for the component in the directory your exe is in before checking
the fully qualified pathname or doing the normal path search. This
allows your components to be independent of components installed and
used by other applications, helping to eliminate dll hell. (In
server app scenarios like IIS and COM+ 1.0 apps, an application isn't
defined by an EXE and thus, cannot benefit from the Fusion 1.0 features.
This is being addressed in Fusion 2.0 and Visual Studio 7.0. In
addition, components listed in Windows 2000's KNOWNDLLS registry key
cannot be overridden. But for Whistler, this has been fixed so that
components in KNOWNDLLS can be redirected.)
The dlls you build and use in this
fashion must be side by side aware. This means one version can run in
one process while another runs in another process. Many controls (dlls)
are already side by side aware and isolated from other versions because
they don't store any state in the registry.
All these features are not obvious to
the user (they don’t “show” in any way). But they really make
Windows Millennium Edition a significant step toward harmonization of
Consumer and Enterprise Operating Systems.
ActiveWin.com: 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
Nicolas Coudičre: I’ve never heard of such
problems. I personally use lots of Caps in my folders and file names. I
would be happy to get more details, and if needed, I will forward this
information to relevant people inside Microsoft.
are the goals of the new system file protection features? Will these
features ease consumer users' troubles in the future?
Nicolas Coudičre: This feature protects the
operating system from being accidentally or voluntarily damaged by the
user or by any application/driver.
that 800 files inside Windows are protected by System file protection.
When one of these files is corrupted or simply modified, Windows simply
regenerates the original file without asking anything to the user. So
the system maintains itself up and running transparently.
File Protection is one of the key features of Fusion (see above). This
is really important for the reliability of the system.
are the new UPnP (Universal Plug & Play) standards set to benefit
Nicolas Coudičre: UPnP is a new standard that
enables any UPnP - compatible device to set-up and interact dynamically
on any network. This is a brand new standard that will play an important
part in tomorrow’s housekeeping.
most important thing with UPnP is that it can work potentially with any
kind of device (TV, Stereo, Computer-related devices…), and that the
user has nothing to do to make it work !
you need more in-depth details on UPnP, please let me know.
first elements of UPnP are integrated in Windows Millennium Edition.
These elements deal with UPnP Printers (and only printers, nothing else
for the moment). The benefit is simple. Imagine you are a PC user with
two PCs linked with a home network (Ethernet or whatever. UPnP is
protocol-agnostic). You need to share printer with both your PCs. Choose
a UPnP compatible Printer, just plug it in your network, and it’s done
! No intervention. No settings. That is what UPnP is about.
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?
Nicolas Coudičre: It took us more than one
year to develop Windows Millennium Edition. More than 1,300 developers,
program managers and testers worked on this project. More than 15,000
(yes !) technical beta testers were active on Windows Millennium Edition
worldwide. This is the second most important project in Microsoft’s
history, after Windows 2000.
is the hibernation feature of Windows Me so sensitive? Were you expecting
some compatibility problems with this feature when it was in development?
Nicolas Coudičre: 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 (ie, not hanging when shutting down or when
resuming). The most sensitive points deal with ACPI compatibility. Every
device driver (display device, sound card, etc…) and the BIOS has to
be fully ACPI compatible in order to have hibernation run normally.
Checking this is a process that PC manufacturers (OEMs) can handle. But
we were sure that the average consumer doesn’t want to hear about BIOS
we decided to remove this feature from the Retail version because we
were sure that 95% of consumers could not have it run. This would have
been a major (and justified) dissatisfaction point for our customers.
And this is also why the feature can even be disabled in
the OEM version of Windows Millennium Edition. If PC manufacturers don’t
want to make the effort to check all their driver files. Or if the User
installs a new “performance” driver for his/her graphic device,
Hibernation may not work properly. Instead of letting the PC hang,
hibernation is automatically disabled when a non-compatible driver is
was your main goal for consumers with the release of Windows Me?
Nicolas Coudičre: It was to deliver an update
for people who want to take advantage of the digital world. If you want
- Play on your PC (especially network games –
Windows Millennium Edition is designed for this
- Access the Internet on your PC
- Discover digital multimedia on your PC (digital
video or music)
Windows Millennium Edition can bring you a really good experience on
Media Player 7, Windows Movie Maker, Windows Image Acquisition are
really built to let you access the digital world without any problem.
You want to create your own music play lists ? Windows Media Player 7 is
for you. You want to edit and create your own videos ? With 3 clicks,
you’re done in Windows Movie Maker. You want to play Quake III in
network with you friends and talk to them live (yes, this is possible
with Windows Millennium Edition) ? No problem. You want your PC to boot
faster than ever ? Try Windows Millennium Edition: you won’t believe
That was our main goal when we decided to work on Windows
you expect a lot of hardware companies to start producing drivers worthy
of being digitally signed in time for the public release of Windows Me in
Nicolas Coudičre: Windows Millennium Edition
already includes more than 13,000 drivers that are all signed. This is
more than any other Operating system on earth.
almost all the main hardware devices manufacturers will have their
drivers signed from now on. This will not be fully ready by Sept 14th.
But we’re working on it.
there any features that you would have liked to have added to the
operating system but didn't? If so, what was excluded?
Nicolas Coudičre: Personally, I’m still
dreaming of voice recognition and of a PC able to speak. This is not the
case with Windows Millennium Edition.
out Text To Speech (TTS) technology (you write the sentence in a text
file, and TTS translates it into speech) is almost mature. I am sure we
will hear of it in the near future.
Voice recognition is still under development at
Microsoft. The problem is that is requires huge resources on the machine
(you can’t imagine the size of the database needed for voice
recognition to work properly). I think it will not be ready until 2005
was your favorite moment during the development of this operating system?
What is your favorite feature of Windows Me?
Nicolas Coudičre: I am definitely mad about
the new Windows Media Player. I can’t stop playing with it, creating
new playlists and burning CDs for my best pleasure. I love the skins
Our favorite moment during the development is almost
always what we call RTM, for Release To Manufacture. This means that the
product is final and ready to ship to our manufacturing centers. We had
a big party that lasted all night long…
is the System Restore feature set to help users?
Nicolas Coudičre: System restore offers a “second
chance” to users in case of critical issues.
your systems runs perfectly well, you can make a photo of it (it is
called a Checkpoint). If you ever feel your system is not running
well any longer, you will have the possibility to roll it back to any
previous checkpoint. Users can do so very simply (a few clicks), and the
process is completely automatic.
This is System Restore.
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?
Nicolas Coudičre: The question is not the name
of the product. The question is rather to know whether you think your PC
needs an upgrade or not. If not, that means you are fully satisfied with
your PC. Please don’t change anything.
if you think that your PC boots too slowly, that you want to play
network games without learning TCP/IP “how to” guide, that you want
to create your own movies and listen to great music, then Windows
Millennium Edition is really for you. And believe me, you will love it.
It has really nothing to do with Windows 98.
there an expected Service Pack release for Windows Me? If so, what are
some of the features/fixes that will be included?
Nicolas Coudičre: Microsoft doesn’t plan to
release any Service Pack for Windows Millennium Edition at this stage.
However, any security or bug fix we may release for Windows Millennium
Edition will be found at this address : http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com.
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?
Nicolas Coudičre: We definitely plan to update
it on a regular basis. I don’t know how we will do that for the
new features are in WinMe that support processor-heavy desktop gaming? Is
there any support for 64-bit processors?
Nicolas Coudičre: Heavy gaming!? Is more than
1GB of RAM enough gaming ? Windows Millennium Edition supports it
without any problems.
most important thing with Windows Millennium Edition is that it will
always support the best available gaming device on the market. You need
a faster display device? It’s designed for Windows Millennium Edition.
You need a force feedback, infrared, ball-less mouse, If it ever exists,
it will run on Windows Millennium Edition.
Windows Millennium Edition is not 64 bit compliant. But
this is certainly not an issue since no 64 bit games exist for the
moment (and none is planned).
you have anything else to add?
Nicolas Coudičre: I’d be happy to invite you
for lunch one day. I would appreciate meeting with you.
Additional links: WIA architecture descriptive http://www.microsoft.com/hwdev/wia/
WIA compliant devices: http://www.microsoft.com/hwdev/WIA/WinME_WIAdrv.htm
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interview was arranged with Julien Jay of the ActiveWin.com team
on location in France.
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