Microsoft has unveiled radical new technology to change forever the way Windows applications are written, installed and run. The new Windows installer program, codenamed Darwin, will be used by Zero Administration for Windows (ZAW) in the forthcoming NT 5.0. Darwin is used by ZAW to download core application components from an NT 5 Server to an NT 5 Workstation on demand. However, in order to deliver decent levels of performance in terms of load times, Darwin will force application developers to rewrite software. Companies will have to break down their monolithic Windows applications into components. The theory is that these components can be downloaded over a LAN and installed on a local NetPC hard disk cache relatively quickly compared to a complete application. Nick McGrath, Windows product manager at Microsoft, said his company will be rewriting applications like Excel to use the Darwin engine. No other software companies have announced plans to rewrite applications, however. Under the ZAW environment on a NetPC running NT 5 Workstation, applications on the Start menu are not loaded onto the user's hard disk until the first time they are actually used. At this point the application is loaded, using Darwin, from an NT 5 Server and then installed on the NetPC. Microsoft has demonstrated how, through Darwin, a system administrator can give users access to new and updated software automatically. System administrators use the NT 5 Management Console utility to specify which new applications particular users have access to and which ones have been updated. It is these applications which appear on the Start menu of a user's workstation.
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