During Microsoft's demonstration of Zero Administration for Windows (ZAW) at CeBIT today, a few details of Windows NT 5.0 and Windows 97 emerged. The widely anticipated beta for NT 5.0 will begin late this year, with a final release in early 1998. Microsoft mentioned that the exact release date will be announced when the beta begins. Features outlined today include:

  • Pervasive Plug and Play
  • Task-oriented system customization
  • "EasyNet", a new Windows NT network configuration utility
  • Clustering technology, via Microsoft's Wolfpack technology, that will scale to 16 machines
  • Symmetric multiprocessing optimization for both the hardware and the operating system that will target eight-processor servers
  • Storage "farms" for tape, optical, and disk
The goal of Windows NT 5.0 is to win over users of all competing operating systems, including users of Windows 95. Microsoft has created a new initiative called "removing the barriers" that will attempt to convert any user with enough resources to run NT. Only users with specific needs--such as those that wish to run DOS games--are expected to stay with Windows 95.

"NT 5.0 will let any user have no reason not to run it, if they have enough memory," said Moshe Dunie, vice president of Microsoft's personal and business systems group.

In a related move, the Windows 95 and NT technologies are moving closer together as Microsoft merges the groups that create the operating systems. Working in tandem, the group has issued a list of features common to NT 5.0 and the next version of Windows 95, code-named "Memphis":

  • "OnNow" support
  • Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI)
  • Universal Serial Bus (USB)
  • 1394 IEEE high-speed interface
  • Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) drive support
  • DirectX 5.0 (DirectX 4.0 was skipped) and ActiveMovie 2.0 APIs
  • Multi-monitor support
  • Intel Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP)
Other features in Memphis include improved backup and Dial-up networking utilities, quick-resume, better PC Card support, and FAT32 compatibility