Paul Maritz, head of development at Microsoft, left a packed audience of European customers 'underwhelmed' and with heightened concerns about upgrading to Windows 2000, with his keynote speech at Tech. Ed Europe this morning.
Opening Microsoft's annual European developer conference Maritz, group vice president of Microsoft's developer division, reassured the crowd of several thousand software developers and IT personnel that Windows 2000 is on track to ship this year.
However, a video showing the migration of 11,000 of Microsoft's 48,000 network users to Windows 2000 in April - a 'warts and all' account playing heavily on the final button click after which there was no turning back - sent a shiver down some attendees' spines.
"It's like a jackpot. It was like a miracle that they expected things would work," said Florence Muscat of the IS department at La Poste, the French postal service. La Poste plans to roll out a new nationwide network with 30,000 PCs running Windows 2000 next year.
"It's scary," Muscat added.
Other attendees in the 6,500 strong audience laughed out loud during the video, as a team of caffeine-driven Microsoft personnel battled through the weekend long upgrade.
Maritz boasted about the extensive user testing of Windows 2000 beta 3, saying that 600,000 users at customer sites are testing the beta version and 30 companies, believed to include Boeing and Ford, have already committed to rolling out the final version.
"We're on track to ship in 1999. Quality is the primary goal," said Maritz.
But one user said the presentation didn't give enough encouragement to customers to upgrade to Windows 2000.
"The whole Windows 2000 platform requires a lot of changes and we want to be given a good reason to go through this major upheaval," said software architect John Rice, of software house Webforia.
"We wanted a vision of where they are going. It's 1999, there should have been more pizzazz," said Rice. "There was probably 10 minutes useful stuff in an hour and a half talk."
Microsoft's Maritz also encouraged attendees to embrace extensible markup language (XML) and previewed the advanced Web and file system integration capabilities of the next generation of Microsoft Exchange.
Maritz emphasised the importance of XML, which he said underlies Microsoft's Biztalk ecommerce initiative and is, "the next foundation of the Internet." XML is an advanced Web authoring language that tags documents, allowing Web pages to function like database records.
"If you do one thing at this conference, learn more about XML," Maritz told the crowd.
During the speech, Microsoft also demonstrated a new version of Microsoft Exchange Platinum that lets users access their Exchange service through a Web browser. It also enables Exchange to operate as a file system so documents can be dragged and dropped between the desktop, public folders and email.
"You can think of it as the next generation of file system technology," said Maritz.
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