Microsoft CEO Bill Gates said the NC will be just another format for the computer, as he expects the industry to adopt Windows-based terminals, Net PCs and palmtop machines alongside PCs.
The true thin client does not include its own software and therefore does not need upgrading every few years, said Gates, speaking at the Win HEC developers? conference in San Francisco. ?The vision of the wallet PC and smart card is many years in front of us; complementary to the full-screen PC. NC stands for ?not compatible?, because it doesn?t run Windows.?
Instead, Gates sees the categories of Net PC and Windows terminal will be added to palm top PCs, notebooks, desktops and servers. He expects all to run Memphis, the Windows 95 upgrade which was given out in beta form at Win HEC.
He admitted the NT 5.0 upgrade can only handle four node SMP configurations at present but Microsoft expects to include support for eight nodes before NT 5.0 is launched in beta later this year. By 1998, Microsoft hopes it can control 16 nodes and the company promised to announce developments in its clustering technology within weeks.
Despite two software crashes during the demonstrations, Gates also showed zero administration for Windows, a system which makes configuration and access simpler for administrators, and On Now, a tool which allows the Windows machines to sleep and makes PCs faster to switch on.
Net PC will ship in the second half of 1997, Gates said. He also announced three specifications for hardware devices that conform to IEEE 1394 and a range of Win32 and USB drivers for multimedia peripherals. Microsoft plans to develop the use of its cut down Windows CE OS in specialised computer devices.
Intel and Microsoft also showed hardware developers PC 98, a machine that handles Web access, games, TV reception, digital versatile disc (DVD) and multimedia PC applications, as a suggestion for the future features of the computer. IBM showed a similar Aptiva prototype, also based on an Intel 200MHz Pentium MMX chip.
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