Driver Tools Readied for Whistler and Millennium

Windows 2000 hasn't yet started to catch on in most corporate environments, but some utility vendors have already begun preparations for the next round of operating system versions. One such trailblazer is Compuware Corp. (www.compuware.com), which announced it is readying new driver development tools that will support both the upcoming Windows Millennium Edition (ME) and the beta edition of Whistler -- the code name for Windows 2000's first successor.

Compuware's DriverStudio 2.0 is slated for final release this fall. Daniel Grossman, product manager at Compuware, says DriverStudio is meant to give developers of device drivers the same kind of comprehensive rapid development support that's long been available to application developers.

"Many device drivers have had issues with Windows. Our goal [with DriverStudio] is to accelerate development of reliable drivers," Grossman says. Compuware's suite includes tools for developing, debugging, tuning, and testing drivers.

Compuware says it has already tested DriverStudio 2.0 tools with Windows ME and Whistler. Whistler, scheduled for release next year, is to be followed by another enterprise operating system, code-named Blackcomb, in the second half of 2002. Microsoft hasn't finalized all the features to be included in either follow-on product, said Dwight Krossa, Microsoft's director for hosting product management, at the recent Fusion show in Atlanta.

Compuware's Grossman notes that to enable third-party driver development for new Microsoft operating systems, Compuware obtains early access to new code. For example, Compuware shipped DriverStudio 1.5, the first version of the driver toolkit to support Windows 2000, in June 1999, seven months before W2K's final release. "Developers have many months of being able to generate revenue from Windows 2000 even before the operating systems hit the market. Now Compuware is doing the same thing with Millennium," Grossman adds.

In the upcoming DriverStudio 2.0, Compuware is adding two new tools: TrueTime Driver Edition for timing how fast device drivers are responding; and DriverNetworks, a component that will add capabilities like remote driver deployment. In addition, SoftIce will gain the ability to debug network drivers, Grossman says.