At its Professional Developers Conference in San Diego next month, Microsoft will preview enhanced application services in Windows NT 5.0 that draw on technology found in the company's existing server products.
The next release of NT will pull together a variety of disparate interfaces from applications such as SQL Server, Exchange, Internet Information Server, and Transaction Server and integrate them into a single set of interfaces in the base operating system. However, users looking for these integrated services should get ready to wait: the latest analyst predictions pin NT 5.0's shipment date in the second half of 1998, at best.
Windows NT 5.0 will feature new data services that allow multimaster replication, said Rich Tong, vice president of marketing for personal and business systems at Microsoft. This feature will allow users to replicate to a number of servers, not just the master NT server, and changes will be coordinated.
SQL Server 6.5 includes this feature in its directory service, and Exchange has similar functionality for its address book and e-mail.
Also due in the initial NT 5.0 beta version is an application-services API designed to give developers a common interface for accessing database, file, transaction, mail, controls, forms, and user-interface services, Tong said.
The API will also facilitate a high level of code reuse by letting developers build applications as components and link them with scripts or Visual Basic for Applications, officials said.
That technology, now in Internet Information Server 4.0 and Transaction Server, will use Microsoft's Com-ponent Object Model as the "glue" that links the applications together.
Enhanced network services will be included in NT 5.0, as well as a management-service API designed to allow multisite administration, event correlation, application console plug-ins, and an OS-controlled install/uninstall setup.
"You can imagine an environment that is able to sense being loaded down on a given system, use a script to fire off to another server to share the load, and get scalability through the Net," said Tom Harris, an analyst with IDC. "It will get the IT department really focused on their business needs and less on writing their very own software."
In addition to providing access to ActiveX controls, NT 5.0's Active Directory will include a feature called Client-Server Rendezvous that will let developers send queries regarding an object's location using Java or any other programming languages to the Active Directory and refer them to the appropriate server, said Jeff Price, NT product manager.
In general, these interfaces should make NT a stronger platform of distributed computing applications, but it is unclear whether Microsoft will be able to deliver NT 5.0 in time to fend off growing interest in rival architectures based on Java and CORBA running on Unix servers.
Windows NT 5.0 features:
Search, index, and access for all data typesApplication servicesCommon interface for system servicesManagement servicesMultisite administration, alerts, and event correlationNetwork servicesE-mail address log-inKerberos security