Microsoft has presented the first extensive look at Windows NT 5.0 to more than 6000 software developers at its Professional Developers Conference, held in San Diego.
"NT 5.0 is going to be a massive release," said Jim Allchin, Microsoft's senior vice president of its personal and business systems group. "And Microsoft is going to bet the company on it."
Although working to live up to a promise to deliver the first beta release of NT 5.0 at the conference, the CD-ROM disks were still in manufacturing during the early part of the week and were only handed out to attendees on Thursday and Friday. One NT product manager said that Microsoft did not classify the early NT code as the first beta release until the Saturday before the conference.
In addition, Microsoft this week sealed back its Wolfpack clustering initiative for NT 5.0. The initial release for NT 5.0 will only support four-node fail over, as opposed to the original goal of 16 nodes.
Allchin admitted at one point that "NT hasn't won any popularity contests" and was to include changes such as reducing the NT-based PCs total cost of ownership by 50%.
Among the new services in NT 5.0 will be hardware support for Plug and Play, use of the Windows Driver Model (also promised for Windows 98), and broad device support for digital video discs, scanners, and other peripherals. It will have 64-bit Very Large Memory support, I20 support for off-loading I/O capabilities away from the main processor, and improved symmetric multiprocessing scalability.
One attendee expressed concern over Microsoft's intention to rewrite the security code in the current OS and use Kerberos, a trusted third-party security plan used by Unix systems, in NT 5.0.
"This is bedrock security for the whole system," said Dennis P. Parker, director of the telecommunications division of UTSI International, in Friendswood, Texas. "I hope they do a real good job."
If there was any disappointment among attendees, it may have been when Allchin warned his listeners that all of NT 5.0 features were not to be found in the first beta release.
"There's a lot that's not in the beta yet," Allchin said. "There's still a lot to do."
Microsoft will announce the release of Windows NT 5.0 after it delivers the second beta version of the OS, an official said.