Microsoft has accepted that its operating systems are at times unreliable, but has promised to do better in Windows 2000.
While blaming third parties and even customers for many failures, Paul Maritz, group vice president of Microsoft's developer group, said today he accepted that many of the problems lay with Windows NT.
In an exclusive interview with VNU Newswire at Microsoft Tech.Ed Europe 99, Microsoft's developers conference in Amsterdam, Maritz took criticisms of Windows NT's reliability on board, but defended claims that Unix is more reliable.
"We take reliability very seriously. In a well run NT environment, we see customers getting very good reliability," said Maritz.
"We've also got to work with hardware partners to make sure that the hardware delivered with NT is reliable," he said. "This is not to say we can't improve the reliability of our own software. In Windows 2000 we hope to make this improvement."
Asked when Windows would offer the reliability of Unix, Maritz cited an IT manager at a Dutch bank he met earlier this week. "He would deny that Unix is reliable," said Maritz.
Many users might beg to differ, with almost universal agreement in the analyst community that Unix is miles ahead of NT in the key measure of reliability and uptime. Gartner Group noted at the end of last year that it believed Unix and AS/400 systems would have higher availability than NT until at least 2001, although the gap will narrow.
In April Microsoft claimed that just 29 per cent of NT's failures are caused by problems with the OS. Meanwhile, aside from kernel problems, the other main area Microsoft attributes problems to is third party certified device drivers - responsible for 18 per cent of NT failures.
"We are working all the time on trying to improve the certification process, particularly in the high end environment," said Maritz.
Another criticism of Microsoft from the user community is that it lacks version control because it releases key operating system components within application releases. Some have suggested this is a move to block out competition, but Microsoft denies this.
"It's not the case, because if we're shipping dlls, we do allow other companies to bundle them as well," said Maritz.
But Maritz did stress that Microsoft would be clamping down on the practice of bundling key OS components in application software.
"Applications shouldn't be shipping with key drivers," he admitted.
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