Windows NT Server ebook

Windows NT Server is a remarkable network operating system, but it’s only now beginning to meet with remarkable commercial success. Windows NT 3.1 didn’t live up to Microsoft’s initial sales projections primarily because of what was considered at the time to be big-time resource requirements (a minimum of 16M of RAM and about 70M of fixed-disk space, substantially more for the Server version). The lack of 32-bit Windows applications and a reputation for running 16-bit Windows applications somewhat slower than Windows 3.1+ also acted as a throttle on acceptance of the Workstation version. Further, Microsoft’s marketing program targeted Windows NT Server to “enterprise computing,” a term that, along with “mission-critical,” has become a cliche. Large corporations and other sizable institutions rarely adopt a network operating system that doesn’t have a proven track record for production use. Relatively few buyers of Windows NT 3.1 Advanced Server installed the product in a production environment, because corporate network and PC administrators considered Windows NT 3.1 to be an “immature” operating system, compared with UNIX and NetWare. Those who took the Windows NT 3.1 plunge, however, quickly found Windows NT 3.1 Advanced Server lived up to most, if not all, of Microsoft’s claims for its new network operating system.

Windows NT 4.0 is the fourth iteration of Windows NT and now qualifies as a “mature” operating system, although Windows NT has been on the market only six years. Unlike other Microsoft operating systems, Windows NT is a cross-platform product; identical versions are available for Intel X86, Digital Alpha, Silicon Graphics MIPS, and Apple/IBM/Motorola PowerPC computers. Major hardware manufacturers such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Digital, Tandem, Amdahl, and Unisys offer high-end servers designed specifically to run Windows NT. The endorsement of Windows NT by these firms, which market proprietary operating systems and/or their own flavors of UNIX, adds substantial credibility to Windows NT Server in the large-scale networking arena.

The most obvious change between Windows NT 3.5+ and Windows NT 4.0 is the adoption of Windows 95’s user interface (UI) and operating system shell. The primary visible change to the shell, aside from the taskbar and desktop, is the substitution of Windows Explorer for File Manager. Microsoft calls Windows NT 4.0 the Shell Update Release (SUR), a term that dates from late 1995, when Microsoft planned to provide the Windows 95 UI and shell in the form of a Service Pack update, rather than as a full version upgrade to Windows NT. The Windows 95 facelift to Windows NT 3.5+ primarily benefits users of Windows NT Workstation 4.0, eliminating the need to train users for and support the legacy UI of Windows 3.1+ used by Windows NT 3.5+ and the new UI of Windows 95.

Beneath the cosmetic improvements, Windows NT Server 4.0 provides several new networking features, the most important of which for networking are the Distributed Common Object Model (DCOM, formerly called NetworkOLE) and a substantial improvement in the Domain Name Service (DNS) for TCP/IP networks. Microsoft needs DCOM to implement its plans for distributing ActiveX (formerly OLE) controls and documents via the Internet and to fully implement three-tier client/server computing using Automation (formerly OLE Automation). Microsoft intends to use DNS as the underpinnings of its directory services for the next version of Windows NT, currently code-named Cairo and scheduled for release in late 1997 or early 1998.