Microsoft has admitted that users must wait for NT 5.0 to solve key operating system problems such as scalability, but refused to provide any clue as to when it might be delivered. In an interview with PC Week, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's executive vice president of sales and support, conceded the NT operating system needs improved support. "Certainly we have to provide better support," he said. Asked when scalability will no longer be an issue, he declined to give a direct answer. "With NT 5.0 and SQL Server 7.0, you're going to see a quantum change in people's perceptions," he explained. "(This is) primarily because of better SMP support, better clustering support for high availability and, frankly, improvements in SQL Server." Ballmer defended his company against the charge that many companies have run into trouble while implementing NT servers because of scalability issues. For example, some users have found that scaling up to 500 servers from 300 can be expensive, due to complications with running Exchange and SQL Server in large installations. "(NT) is still cheaper, honestly," Ballmer protested. "I won't disagree that we have some customers who find things they did not know when they started down the path." He argued that the problem will be eliminated as servers get more powerful, giving "a possibility of consolidation of Intel servers". He also admitted NT needs greater facilities to help manage resource usage, fault isolation and fault identification, which he promised will be delivered in NT 5.0. Ballmer said the key needs for organisations using the operating system on an enterprise basis are "more scalability, better operating system support for resource constraints on multiple services on a given server and better tools to manage multiple servers". Ballmer claimed there will be "good progress on all three fronts" in NT 5.0.
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