Steve Ballmer, president of Microsoft, yesterday faced down a barrage of biting criticism from US analysts and IT directors, claiming that Windows 2000 would improve his company's reputation.
In a raucous session in front of 8,000 senior IT professionals and live on the Web, Ballmer said Windows 2000 would be ready in the next several months. (Analysts expect there to be a major announcement at Comdex in mid November)
"Quality feedback from customer test sites is quite good now but we want to take our time and make sure the thing is absolutely right [but] it is in production environments on mission critical servers already," he said."Microsoft has a history of over promising and under delivering. I'll say just two words: scalability day!" said Michael Gartenberg, Gartner analyst, referring to Microsoft's demonstration last year of the so-called 'data centre capabilities' of NT.
"You said NT would run an airline reservation system - you have so far reached a point where you can run a restaurant reservation system," added Gartenberg to loud applause from the 8,000 strong crowd.
"It's fair to say that we got ahead of ourselves...but now the market perception lags reality if anything, partly because we got ahead of ourselves," responded Ballmer.
In a wide ranging speech he also predicted a hybrid PC-network computer would play a major role sometime in the future, particularly as a major sea change occurred in the software industry toward application service providers. (See earlier story)
This hybrid client would have some resources, such as processor and storage, but would retain applications in state - cache memory - rather than installing them permanently. He said the Intellimirror functionality in Windows 2000 would help run that kind of environment.
"Sounds like you have just announced the Windows network computer. Have you just announced Windows terminal professional with NT embedded?" quipped Tom Austin, Gartner Group analyst.
To much amusement Ballmer said if he had, he hadn't meant to. He believed the market would actually be composed of three types of client device. The first that had all the state and all the processing power. The second that was centralised like a Windows Terminal Server device.
The third would be the hybrid device, he said: "This will be the most useful model years from now."
Ballmer also said that while Microsoft would never open source its products, because while it had some advantages, it intrinsically meant free and somewhat chaotic, he did say the company might open up a bit.
"[We are considering] are there parts of NT in 2000 that we could publish to customers that would allow them to do their own thing and have a more satisfactory experience with their products," he said.
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