Microsoft Looks at Windows NT beyond 5.0

Windows NT 5.0 is still a far-off product by virtually any measure, but that didn't stop Microsoft officials from talking enthusiastically about the software giant's plans for the operating system beyond Version 5.0 this week.

"NT will be the richest platform ever built," said Microsoft Senior Vice President Jim Allchin at the Windows NT 5.0 Technical Workshop here. "NT 5.0 is a step in that direction."

Microsoft took a step toward the release of NT 5.0 by issuing Beta 2 this week, but that testing cycle has just begun, and the company is planning a third beta before the product is released to manufacturing and general availability. Beta 1 was released last fall.

Given that timetable, and repeated insistence by Allchin and other Microsoft officials that they will not rush NT 5.0 to market, the company will not pinpoint a release date, or even publicly speculate on a release. Windows 98 developers, as well as hands working on NT 4.0 Service Pack 4, have been transferred to the NT 5.0 team.

Nevertheless, Allchin touted the post-NT 5.0 world to about 180 attendees at the workshop.

Allchin highlighted Microsoft's work to created an embedded version of NT, and said boosting real-time audio and video capabilities, as well as creating a more unified programming and management environment, would be a focus going forward.

"It doesn't have what I would call real time, and that's something we're working on," Allchin said.

Other post-NT 5.0 features will include more support for Extensible Markup Language (XML) schemata, further unification of the Web and Win32 environments, building more "location independence" functionality for roaming users, enhanced clustering, and 64-bit support.

Simplicity also will be a key going forward, Allchin said, predicting further automation and interfaces that react to a user's needs. He said making NT as "maintenance-free" as possible was Microsoft's goal.

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