SAN FRANCISCO--Microsoft (MSFT)
senior researcher James Gray crawled out of his lab
"will="" nt="" take="" over?"="">
to persuade Windows NT devotees at the Windows
NT Intranet Solutions
conference that the operating system will soon be ready to
take on Unix.
Citing the company's focus on high-end features such as clustering software
and transaction servers, Gray told a half-filled hall that the NT 5.0
operating system--which will debut next month at a developer's
conference in San Diego--is ready to handle large environments, as well as
layouts requiring "thick" servers to service "thin" clients.
"We're heading toward a world where we'll have billions of clients," said
Gray, noting the variety of devices that will soon contain an OS. "In that
world, there will be a huge demand for servers."
Windows NT 5.0 Workstation will offer a tool called IntelliMirror that
gives users the choice of saving their files to a server as well as a cache
on local disk. This method requires large servers, since the server and
workstation communicate to resolve versions of files before a user can
access their data. NT is also expected to play a significant role as Net PC
computers roll out.
Gray also acknowledged NT's current limitations, but he said that on a
price and performance basis the OS offers a compelling reason to switch
from Unix systems. He also said clustering--a method to string together
server computers to act as one system--will be the key in providing large
The researcher said that Windows NT Server Enterprise Edition will ship
within the month. The souped-up derivative of the base operating system
includes the company's Cluster Server, transaction server, and
message-queuing technology. Other enterprise versions of the SQL Server
database and Exchange will arrive before the end of the year. A server,
code-named Hydra, that allows a variety of clients to access an NT server
will also ship before year's end, he said.
At a press conference following the presentation, Gray said current Intel bottlenecks in bus technologies for
servers are the primary barrier facing Windows NT scalability.
"It's a serious problem right now," he said. "Software is limited by
"Other Unix vendors cleared those bottlenecks earlier," he said, referring
to the high-speed bus technologies that ship with many Unix-based systems
from Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard.