Microsoft president Steve Ballmer gave a special keynote address at the Network+Interop tradeshow in Atlanta where he discussed the upcoming release of Windows NT 5.0 and its new Windows Management Architecture (WMA). Ballmer said that the three key areas of WMA--configuration, availability, and security--would go a long way toward making NT 5.0 the release of NT that customers would feel happy about.

"It will be years before the PC can rival the mainframe in \[clustering and management\]" he said. "DLL 'conflicts'--that's a nice word to use--have been a problem for some users. One user I talked to had to reboot every four weeks because if they didn't, the server would crash."

This causing some knowing laughter in the crowd. It don't personally know of any NT Server machines that aren't routinely rebooted, by the way.

"Everyone is this room is familiar with DLL conflicts that occur. We need to take steps to prevent this so that we deliver high availability and reliability," he said.

Ballmer says that key NT 5.0 technologies such as Active Directory, Windows Installer, Terminal Server, and IntelliMirror will go a long way toward realizing the goal of Windows NT everywhere.

"The biggest change in NT 5 will come in the WMA pieces that span configuration, availability and security," Ballmer said. "NT 5 does carry the next quantum leap forward in the Windows Management Architecture."

When the inevitable discussion of the release date for NT 5.0 came up, Ballmer didn't really have anything new to add. He's been using the same politically sound "we'll ship it when our customers say it's ready" answer for over a year now.

"And, of course, we have to ship Windows NT. 5.0," Ballmer said to applause. "And it's still a ways in the future, and I feel terrible. But I'll feel worse if we ship it and the quality isn't absolutely there. I guess that it's not genius to ship an operating system the year before Y2K, but I'm an optimist and I guess I hope people will have time on their hands when everything shuts down and they can have time to work with NT 5.0."

Always leave 'em laughing, Steve