Microsoft's Allchin to Users: Talk to Me

Contrasting the boisterous nature of some high-level Microsoft Corp. executives when promoting Windows 2000, Jim Allchin, senior vice president of Microsoft's business and enterprise division, closed out a three-day Windows NT conference run by GartnerGroup with a moderate tenor.

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- Contrasting the boisterous nature of some high-level Microsoft Corp. executives when promoting Windows 2000, Jim Allchin, senior vice president of Microsoft's business and enterprise division, closed out a three-day Windows NT conference run by GartnerGroup (www.gartner.com) with a moderate tenor.

At the conference, which focused on Windows NT/2000 decision points for IT departments in large organizations, GartnerGroup strongly discouraged attendees from deploying Windows 2000 until the release of a post-Windows 2000 product. GartnerGroup explains that this second release will integrate all of the expected hotfixes and Service Pack updates that will follow Windows 2000. That release is not expected until late in 2001.

The closing event placed Allchin in an interview setting, with GartnerGroup analysts Michael Gartenberg and Tom Bittman leading the discussion.

Allchin's recommendations for deployment of Beta 3 were conservative. "I've talked to a lot of customers about it, and there is no blanket answer." He added, "You should take Beta 3 and test it."

Despite Windows 2000 Beta 3 being, in Allchin's words, "more solid than any operating system we've ever shipped," he told conference attendees," I want to hear from some customers."

For larger enterprises, moving to Windows 2000 brings with it a larger problem than the upgrade itself: domain consolidation and restructuring in preparation to move to Active Directory (see case study on page 1). "Should you roll out the directory right away? Directories take some planning," Allchin cautioned. He suggested that once users complete Year 2000 preparations, they could use some of the remaining part of the year to work through domain-to-directory migration issues.

Despite an increasing number of features integrated into Windows 2000 and the resulting complexity and code base growth that goes with it, Allchin says it's not an intentional effort on Microsoft's part. "We're not sitting around, thinking, 'if we could put this in the operating system.' On the contrary, we're trying to keep things out. I don't want SQL Server in the operating system, and I don't want Exchange in the operating system. But other companies are improving in those areas, and we're going to have to keep up with them." Allchin cited capabilities such as quota management and services for Unix as capabilities Microsoft added because customers expect it.

When asked about the Linux phenomena, Allchin responded, "Linux is Unix. I don't consider [Linux] to be very innovative. [But], the way they're building it is an interesting engineering process." He says Microsoft has conducted a number of technical evaluations on Linux, including one summarized by a report popularly called the "Halloween" document. The report was leaked from Microsoft and subsequently posted on the Web by Linux proponents last October 31. "We did a number of papers on it, not all of which were published externally," Allchin quipped.

"From a competitive perspective, we're going to compete with [Linux] hard. But it's not something that I'm sitting here worrying about it. It's shame on us if we don't continue to improve our product," Allchin said.

The interest in Linux, though, apparently has made Microsoft executives stop and think. "I do believe some of it is related to Microsoft's image. Again, it's shame on us," Allchin concluded. "But I also believe that at the end, the profit motive will end up ruining and tarnishing the altruism that people promote for [Linux]. It will be interesting to see what happens in a few years."