November 1998

Windows NT is dead. For those of us in the OS/2 community, this is not news. We have known of the relative obsolescence of Microsoft's flagship for a long time now.

Hold on just a minute, you may be saying. You may have heard of a Microsoft plan to change the naming of its future operating system products to Windows2000, but since when has Microsoft pulled the plug on its hoped-for enterprise-class product development?

Since the October 27, 1998 Microsoft announcement. Yes, the real meaning of this announcement is that Microsoft has pulled the plug on NT 5.0, its long-hyped "solution" to the woes of previous versions of its operating system products. Of course, they did not announce this fact openly; instead, they wove a deceptive web of propaganda and lies focused on drawing attention away from the colossal flop of NT 5 and distracting people with the idea of a mere "name change" -- as if only the marketing had changed.

This situation is similar to what Oliver Stone would say if confronted with the question, "Why did the chicken cross the road?" He would reply, "That is not the real question. The real question is, What else was happening while the chicken was crossing the road, that we did not see because we were distracted by the chicken crossing the road?" Microsoft has decided to use a marketing distraction to hide the fact that they are chickening out, so to speak, because the big-shots in Redmond have finally realized that they just don't have the "right stuff" to build an enterprise-class operating system like OS/2 or Unix or OS/400 or OS/390. Of course, they will never admit that publicly!

Yes, the next NT will not be a new operating system; it will instead be just a repackaged rehash of NT 4.0, renamed Windows2000 Server, and hyped as if it was a wonderful new breakthrough -- supposedly "innovative" and "ingenious" and as always "user-friendly" -- which is just what people want to hear. Managers who foolishly built their future plans on a nonexistent version 5.0 product don't want to hear that they got scammed yet again, that they must scale back all their expectations, and that the only real change in the next version of their Microsoft product (besides the name) will be the higher price.

The timing of this announcement was far from coincidence. It came right on the heels of new IBM and Sun initiatives to unify and extend the power of the Unix and Solaris operating systems. It also came as OS/2 Warp Server begins its final beta cycle for the high-octane version 5.0. No, Microsoft does not think that Warp Server is a threat today; however, they cannot afford continued delays that would legitimize alternatives like OS/2 and let them continue to prosper in their niches. Microsoft is bent on an all-or-nothing strategy, so NT 5 had to die so that Microsoft could bring *something* to market in the next two years -- or risk an OS/2 resurgence and a Unix whitewash. Also, the timing of the backtrack strategy was on the critical path for attempting to fix the NT 4 Y2K issues -- about 13 months, which was the number that IBM's Stephen King suggested at Warpstock was necessary for such an undertaking based on the OS/2 experience.

Just how much trouble was Windows NT 5.0 in, anyway? More than Microsoft or any of its cronies will admit. An estimated 35 million lines of code -- 85% being version 1.0 stuff -- made it a huge risk. Popular PC columnist Nicholas Petreley labeled it a doomed kludge; Frank Hayes of Computerworld called it "a monster project running amok" and claimed that "the only sane response is to kill it." (August 24, 1998) But most of all, it was Microsoft's own NT blabbermouth, Jimmy Allchin, who began backpedalling and downplaying NT as early as August of 1998. Apologies, admissions of problems, expectations of further delays -- NT 5.0 was a black hole for resources and was never going to work right no matter how many times Microsoft attempted to jump-start it.

Why did IBM OS/2 outlive Microsoft's "New Technology" pipe dream? Because unlike Microsoft, IBM does indeed have the right stuff for enterprise-class development and enterprise-class computer systems. Those of us who are not in the enterprise class (but see no reason to settle for anything less than the best!) are the beneficiaries of our wise choice to standardize on a product built on genius, sweat, and honest management. The suckers who trusted Microsoft once again get the shaft while Microsoft gets the gold.

As a service to the computer users of the world who want to avoid denial and "get over it," OS/2 Headquarters will soon offer a new subsidiary website called "Beyond NT" ( This e-zine will focus on escape paths from NT to more robust and long-lived solutions such as OS/2, Java, and Linux.

Windows NT is dead. Welcome to the post-NT era.

Most recent revision: November 1, 1998
Copyright © 1998, Tom Nadeau
All Rights Reserved.