TechEd 97: Microsoft's tour of Memphis

With Microsoft sprucing up Memphis before sending it out into beta test, the company has previewed some new features in the follow-on to Windows 95 to a crowd of developers at a major trade show. Goodies shown off included support for multiple monitors from a single CPU, client-side caching on network and 'broadcast PC' capabilities. But beta versions will be a lot harder to get than those for Win95.

With Microsoft sprucing up Memphis before sending it out into beta test, the company has previewed some new features in the follow-on to Windows 95 to a crowd of developers at a major trade show.

"The beta for Memphis isn't going to be like 95," said Microsoft's Bernard Wong, the presenter at a session on Memphis and NT 5.0 Workstation here at the TechEd 97 developers conference. "Everyone and his brother, sister and cousin is not going to have it - it'll go out to only about 10,000 people."

The Memphis beta is due out in about a month and will get into the hands of manufacturers in the fourth quarter of the year, while Windows NT 5.0 Workstation will likely be released next year, according to Wong.

One new Memphis and NT Workstation feature that drew applause from the developer crowd here was support for multiple displays from a single CPU. This allows a user to click and drag windows among several different monitors to prevent one monitor from getting overcrowded.

The demonstration also showed that users will be able to set different screen resolutions for different monitors, a feature that will be especially useful for Web developers who want to see what a page would look like on monitors of different resolutions and color settings, said Wong. The number of monitors supported is limited only by the number of PCI cards supported by a system, he said.

Another feature previewed for the first time was Memphis' client-side, file-caching features. Client side caching lets users call a file from the network server using an Organizer feature and store it in the local hard drive when they disconnect their PCs.

Users can change the locally stored version of the file, and then, when the PC links back up to the network, the modified version will automatically replace the version stored on the network server. Multiple changes made to a file by several users are tracked and managed through time and date stamping, but there is currently no feature that would allow a network administrator to give one user's edits default priority over those done by another user, Wong said.

Another set of features previewed by Wong was what he called "broadcast PC" and "enhanced TV" capabilities. These let Windows receive TV broadcasts, and allow users to run a window with a TV broadcast next to a window with additional content about the TV broadcast. For example, while a movie is being played in one window, information about the actors can be displayed in another window.

"It gives us the capability of using the broadcast PC as a means of delivering a lot more than just your standard television fare," Wong said. "You'll now have the capability of having an electronic formatting guide, so that regardless of whether you're hooked up via a satellite dish or via cable, you can now put through a query against the database of all those channels to see what's playing."

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