The Microsoft TechNet roadshow was in town in May offering a sneak peek at the Windows .Net server family. It’s essentially Windows 2000 evolved, with a few new management tools and an event tracker. But it represents more than meets the eye.
The event tracker addresses an obvious (in retrospect)
diagnostic shortcoming of Windows NT, the grandfather of the .Net server family. According to Microsoft tech specialist Robert Davidson – nattily attired for the event in a Tie Domi hockey jersey (hey, it was the height of Round 2 fever) – 40 per cent of Blue Screen of Death episodes on NT 4 followed system or software changes. On shutdown, not only does the .Net server ask what you want to do – for example, restart the machine – but also why you want to do it (scheduled maintenance versus an unscheduled system failure, for instance). Using this information and other system events it tracks, on reboot after a failure the server offers a plausible explanation of the cause of the failure (e.g., you can’t configure your way out of a paper bag, buddy).
File under miscellaneous – there are about 70 new DOS commands, which, according to Davidson, made developers in the audience squirm with delight. I guess you have to be one.
The server also rolls out software restrictions that can lock down applications on client machines. For example, non-techie types on the org chart probably don’t need to be able to run .vbs scripts, so locking down that application on those desktops will save endless worm-based bother. (The example file used for the demo was titled bigfatvirus.vbs. I firmly believe that many people who received just such an attachment would attempt to open it.)
However, that benefit is denied clients with pre-Win 2000 operating systems, which is significant, to me anyway, in ways I’ll discuss in a paragraph or two.
The big deal about 2000 was the active directory, and it remains the centrepiece of the .Net server family. But Davidson says the new servers are more meaningful when viewed as a platform. The XP user’s system should be getting something, deriving some functionality or benefit, from the server.
This sounds like the Web services model, doesn’t it?
This provokes from me a conclusion and a question.
Conclusion: Web services aren’t going to be Web-based at first; they’re going to develop behind the firewall, within the corporate system, largely as an integration and management tool.
Question: In the Microsoft vision, do users need XP to derive the benefits of Web services and the .Net platform, both within and outside the enterprise?