Microsoft has revealed further details of its Memphis and Windows NT 5.0 strategies, which could threaten the survival of Netscape and Lotus Notes by incorporating browser and groupware software in the operating system.
Both operating systems will have a new user interface closely integrating Internet Explorer and Microsoft Exchange. Richard Tong, head of product marketing at Microsoft US, claimed both were still on target. He said NT 5.0, which will be released to beta at the end of the year, will include additional levels of security, have zero administration features, better storage capabilities and support for ATM and OSPF, a next-generation routing protocol.
"Zero administration technology will detect hardware automatically.
It will be truly self-maintaining. We want to remove application set-up from disks and make them part of the operating system in NT 5.0," he said.
"We'll include system lockout, stateless clients and roaming users."
He claimed these features will allow users to access their most used applications and files from any PC, anywhere. But the implication is that those applications and files will be held on servers, meaning that local hard drives will be used as cache.
"You won't see DLLs or systems files," he said. "Active Directory will store applications and set-ups as a shared repository. Our goal is to make an OS that can run on all machines."
But Tong admitted there could be problems because NT 5.0 will download the kernel of the operating system. "The kernel of the OS will be held on users' hard disks. If you're in the middle of downloading NT and the system goes down, there's not much you can do."
Memphis, he said, will go into beta "in the first half of this year" so will be available in three or four months time. "It will include Web browsing," he said. Both will have similar interfaces but will not have the same feature set.
"Automatic application updates will be in Memphis but other features will be more difficult to implement," he said. Microsoft's goal is to have a scalable operating system running from the "humblest CE palmtop to mighty NT servers", Tong said.
That means similar facilities for the NetPC, which he said will have an agreed reference platform this month. Over 120 hardware vendors had expressed interest in making NetPCs and he predicted that some machines will be on sale before the summer.
Tong said MIcrosoft's Hydra announcement was a long way from completion.
"People are saying we need a Citrix-type emulation. Hydra is our look at how to do it. This is at a very early stage. People should still buy Citrix, which remains a partner of ours."
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