Windows 2000 reliable, says Microsoft
(IDG) -- Microsoft Corp. executives on Monday promised that the new Windows 2000 release will be far more reliable than previous versions of its Windows operating system.
"There's no comparison," said Jim Allchin, vice president of Microsoft, in a press briefing at Comdex when asked to compare the reliability of the company's forthcoming release with that of its Windows 98 operating system. Microsoft has spent $162 million on people and tools improving the reliability of its product, Allchin said.
After fielding numerous complaints from customers about the reliability of Windows NT OS in particular, Microsoft launched an initiative to improve the reliability of Windows. "This is something we will be much more hard-core about in the coming years than we have been in the past," Allchin said.
A survey of 5,000 customers evaluated reliability in Windows NT 4 and identified the most common causes of server reboots. Sixty-five percent of reboots were planned and 35 percent were unplanned, Allchin said.
Planned reboots included those necessary when installing applications or hardware or when systems were reconfigured. In some cases, servers were rebooted because their operators perceived a need for preventive maintenance, Allchin said.
Unplanned reboots were due to application and system failures. Twenty-one percent of the time the blue screens were caused by application failures in which rebooting the server was the fastest way to fix the problem or the application required rebooting of the server.
Fourteen percent of the time, reboots were caused by system failure. Of that 43 percent of system failures ending in rebooting, 13 percent were hardware failures, 43 percent were core NT failures, 16 percent were Windows device driver failures, 16 percent were caused by third-party driver failures and 12 percent were antivirus failures.
Reducing the number of planned reboots was fairly easy. Educating users that there was no need for preventive reboots, for instance, was key, Allchin said.
In the case of hardware installations, for example, Microsoft added plug-and-play features to Windows 2000 that allow users to install hardware without rebooting. Also, "we eliminated dozens and dozens of configuration reboots," Allchin said.
Lowering the number of unplanned reboots was a more expensive and time-consuming matter, however. The company worked to improve driver verification and security. Microsoft worked with hardware providers to increase the compatibility between their hardware and its operating system.
In addition to reducing the number of reboots, Microsoft also decreased the time necessary for rebooting, thereby improving availability of the OS, Allchin said.
Allchin and Microsoft President Steve Ballmer, who also spoke at the conference, were confident that Windows 2000 would be released on Feb. 17, as promised. Release candidate three (RC3) is shipping to customers this week, Ballmer said.
Microsoft has no contingency plan if the judge in its court battle with the U.S. Department of Justice should force the delay of the launch, Ballmer said, in response to questions posed. "We have no plan in place. We don't expect that to happen."
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