Valentine Pushes Reliability for Windows 2000

DALLAS -- Brian Valentine exhorted attendees at TechEd today to test Beta 3, offering a glimpse of his management style which has been credited with getting the late Windows 2000 operating system back on a schedule.

During his keynote, which kicked off the IT Operations portion of Microsoft Corp.’s annual technical education conference, Valentine called for a show of hands from audience members who were already testing the Beta 3 version of Windows 2000, which shipped April 29.

He then encouraged the hands-up attendees to tell any hands-down attendees: "You suck."

Valentine, a vice president in charge of development in Microsoft’s business and enterprise division, claims he has used the rude strategy on other high-level executives inside Microsoft as well. So far 33 of the 62 highest-level executives in the company run the OS on their desktops, he says.

On a more serious note, Valentine also tried to entice the assembled IT professionals with demonstrations of the technologies to be included in Windows 2000 Server and Professional.

On an 8-way box running Windows 2000 Datacenter Server, Microsoft ran a demonstration of a workload management tool jointly developed with Sequent Computer Systems Inc. Using a simple GUI, applications were immediately assigned to specific processors without a reboot to applause from the crowd. The tool, called Process Control, will be standard in Datacenter Server. At another point in the speech, Valentine got a positive response when he announced that Windows 2000 eliminates 75 reboot scenarios.

Also using the 8-way machine, Valentine and an assistant showed the large memory capabilities of Datacenter Server. In its configuration with 8 GB of RAM across the Pentium III Xeon chips, they completed a query in 15 seconds of a database with almost 10 million rows held in memory. Datacenter Server will support up to 64 GB of RAM, Valentine said.

IBM Corp. vice president Randy Groves came on stage to demonstrate IBM’s new clustering technology code-named Cornhusker, which allows up to 8-node clusters of Windows NT Server 4.0 Enterprise Edition. The technology builds on Microsoft Cluster Services and uses Microsoft clustering APIs. While not directly a Windows 2000 technology, Cornhusker will be compatible with Windows 2000, officials from both companies say.

The demonstration showed five file-and-print servers simulating 1,000 concurrent users. One server failed onto another server, then three servers, including the one that had picked up the load from the first failed server, failed onto a fifth server.

Other Microsoft demonstrations included the immediate replication of changes to an Exchange user in the Active Directory, the replication of an Active Directory user change to Novell Directory Services and the policy settings capabilities administrators have over users of Windows 2000 Professional.

Demonstrations of Windows 2000 Professional improvements included a hibernate function that puts the contents of memory onto the hard drive so when a user powers back up, in an hour or a week, the same applications return to the screen in about 15 seconds; support for infrared links that allow file transfers between adjacent laptops; plug-and-play; file encryption; and new options for offline work on network files.

All of the demonstrations worked.

"When we ship it, I want it to be 100 percent more reliable than NT 4 SP5," Valentine said.

Valentine also provided much anticipated specifics of Microsoft’s progress on its internal conversion to Windows 2000 Beta 3. At 5:39 p.m., Friday, April 9, Microsoft began a weekend-long physical upgrade of its 9,000-user Redmond domain, the largest domain in the 48,000-person company. By May 5 there was only one remaining Windows NT 4.0 backup domain controller, and now the domain is entirely Windows 2000.

Since then, Microsoft has also moved its South American domain to Beta 3 to see how Windows 2000 performs with slow links and migrated its South African domain. The company is currently upgrading European and Asian domains. About 11,000 employees are running Windows 2000 Professional, Valentine said.

At the Beta 3 launch last month, Valentine said there were 23 companies putting Beta 3 into production environments with 24X7 support from Microsoft. Today, Valentine said the number of companies is 42 and will be 50 before the program is over.

To underline how badly he wanted customer feedback, Valentine noted that 83 Web sites are offering unauthorized downloads of Beta 3. "I’m not picky about how you get it," Valentine said. "Just get it and give me the feedback."

Valentine reiterated that the final version of Windows 2000 remains on track to ship in 1999. – Scott Bekker

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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