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Q&A: Allchin® Talks
Turkey® About Longhorn®
Reprinted from Information Week®. Used by permission.
Jim Allchin®, who spearheads Microsoft®'s Longhorn® push, gives some long awaited details on the next generation version of Windows®.
By Barbara Darrow and Paula Rooney.
Jim Allchin®, vice president of platforms at Microsoft®, infamous for his weasel tactics® at the DOJ trial®, spearheads the software giant's much ballyhooed - and delayed and crash prone - push for Longhorn®, the next generation of Windows® no one really wants to see. Allchin® sat down this week to talk about Longhorn® plans, DRM, the DOJ trial®, his controversial sex life®, and piles®.
Allchin® and Neil Charney, director of the Microsoft Platform Strategy and Astroturfing Group, tried to demonstrate Longhorn®'s upcoming 'Visualise and Organise' and 'RFID Retina Melt' capabilities but their XPSP2® laptop refused to boot® and so the show was put off until a later date.
Allchin said to expect another preview - a so called 'beta-alpha' - of Longhorn® code at WinHAX® later this month, a delta-beta release of both client and server this summer, with a developer gamma-beta to follow in the fall. The long-awaited client operating system is however only due by the holiday season 2017 with the server to follow 'REAL SOON AFTER'®.
CRN: Microsoft plans to release a beta-alpha of Longhorn® this summer. Will you make first half or second half of 2005?
ALLCHIN®: Absolutely not. Maybe late 2015. We're on track for the second half as I sit here today, piles and all, but what do I know? Don't expect too much. We're not releasing Longhorn® until 2017, so what's the rush?
CRN: How will you try to integrate laptops and desktops with SmartPhones?
ALLCHIN®: We'll be using MS ActivePhone® by then, and we'll have a sync manager called MS ActiveSync® in Longhorn® to simplify that sync process for phones and other machines. It's a new version of synchronisation, a brand new system being done for Longhorn®, replete with your usual array of clumsy Microsoft bugs, and we'd like it to have a whole set of wireless supports - especially FireWire and Bluetooth - so it can run more seamlessly between work and home, and understand the environment, but we have a bit of a wait until we can begin reverse engineering the next product line from our friends at Apple, so those supports will have to wait. But we'll keep control.
CRN: Should developers be using APIs in the next Longhorn® build due at WinHAX 2015 or the formal developers' edition preview to be distributed at ADC 2015?
ALLCHIN®: Absolutely not. You know, this is much too early to begin speculation now. WinHAX is still more than ten years off. But OK, if you insist. At WinHAX we'll give a build out of Longhorn®, a gamma-delta-alpha, and we'll help developers through the transition of writing the next generation of crash-prone graphics drivers. You can call it a preview, it's not a beta - it's a gamma-delta-alpha. Maybe you could call it an ordinary alpha or even a gamma-alpha, or if we're lucky a delta-beta, but not a beta - not a real beta. But it's dramatically different from the first preview which was only an alpha-alpha or a beta-alpha at best. Nothing we have today has our new user interface on it - the one based on Apple's Aqua. What we have right now still looks pretty sketchy, but we're hoping Tiger will give us a little more to go on. And we have some things to show you, especially in the field of DRM. There are a number of large people trying to get a jump using our new technology already; depending on their willingness to pay the price and continue to recommend our platform for business, we've been giving them that. After ADC 2015, we'll have a delta-beta and we'll decide the shipping date. We're still on track for shipping by holiday 2016, so we'll be done before then. Or so they say.
CRN: When we talked to your partners and astroturfers at ADC 2003, where you showed off all this Longhorn® nonsense, there was a lot of annoyance. And now that everything has slip-slided as per usual, even your die hard partners and astroturfers seem disappointed. Some of them are talking of going into 'open source'. What's your message to them?
ALLCHIN®: Absolutely not. That's not true. That's what I'm trying to tell you. It isn't. It's not incremental. The world, in my opinion, thinks this is perhaps the next version of a Service Pack. I think the world generally thinks that. It's not. It's a very big deal. It's much more messed up than any version of Windows has ever been - even Service Pack 2 with Advanced Security Technologies. Way more. And as for going 'open source', that's communist and so it's not a real option for a patriot anyway.
CRN: Regarding the demo of Longhorn®'s Visual Folders search and visualise feature. Is it based on WinFS? MSN Search?
ALLCHIN®: Absolutely not. It's much more about indexing, and even 'de-indexing', if it's anything, but it's deliberately confused. That's part of our policy. DRM. You have the media - you have the computer - only if we let you. But as long as the icons look good, I'm satisfied we'll get our market share. It's all part of a much richer view capability built into Longhorn®. Icons of icons. Great stuff. We're even going to make icon representations of icons within icon representations. We call them 'Image Reps'. Our 'visualise and organise' goes back to Cairo, an old Windows NT project even if CEO - sorry, Chief Software Architect - Bill later denied there ever was a Cairo project. The indexing technology that's in XP and in Windows 2000 is a follow on of Cairo technology. We can list anything we want and we can come with plausible denial that anything exists we don't want to list. It's all about control. DRM. You have the media - you have the files - only if we let you. RFIDs implanted in retinas if we have to. Alpha-betas of the RFID retina technology will reach the market about a year before Longhorn®. We'd like to have that integrated into the system too but no promises yet. So we have continued working on our search technology and it's used successfully by MSN search where we could convincingly claim there were only six links on the entire Internet to the word 'Linux'. And it's been in the operating system for awhile. As soon as people try to stop using our expensive add-on software and escape from our vendor lock in, their files are going to disappear. As they should. But with Longhorn® it is dramatically improved: if you searched at MSN with it, you'd only find two links today to Linux - and they're both out of date and broken. So we're very happy about that.
CRN: What about workflow? Will WinOE technology be in Longhorn®?
ALLCHIN®: Absolutely not. We call it 'WOE' today - 'Windows OE'. It's shorter and more to the point, descriptive. But WOE workflow won't be in the Longhorn® client even though the current path is it will be available on the server. Nothing here is tied to WOE on the client; the server however is going to be 'WOE-full'.
CRN: There have been published reports of seven different versions of the Windows Longhorn® client, including a starter edition®, home®, premium / media®, professional®, small business®, mobility / tablet PC® and some 'uber'® or developer® edition®.
ALLCHIN®: Absolutely not. I don't think we've said anything about that yet. But down the road we're looking at a sort of 'TV Guide' situation, you know where they put Courtney on one cover, Jennifer on another, and so forth. We want customers buying as many editions of our software as possible, even though they're fundamentally the same waste of space.
CRN: It seems you're trying to make the common code base more customisable for roles and yet you're expanding the number of editions.
ALLCHIN®: Absolutely not. The roles are on the server side. A discussion of the client SKUs is not on tap for me today. I popped some piles this morning and I'm really in a bad mood.
CRN: One of the things ISVs and others at ADC 2003 loved about what you showed then, which shocked me, was VisiCalc running in it. You were running old, unmodified apps in a window. Is that still part of the plan?
ALLCHIN®: Absolutely not. That's not true. Longhorn® will be even more incompatible than what we showed there. I can take VisiCalc and run it here. No problem. I can even take Windows XP and run it here. No problem. And I can run Windows NT inside Windows 2000 inside Windows XP Service Pack 2 with Advanced Security Technologies and put that all inside Longhorn® and I still get the shit hacked out of me. It's insanely great.
CRN: You mention that security is a huge part of Longhorn®'s design criteria.
ALLCHIN®: Absolutely not. That's not true. Officially it will be safe and secure. I use safe along with security because with security you think of whether the operating system code was done in a secure manner. With us of course that's an open and shut matter. Safety means you help users to protect themselves - especially Bill's perverse offspring. Parental controls, as an example, are not something that has to do with an OS vulnerability or bad coding. Only with protecting American children from American parents. It has to do with facilities that help keep someone safe. We don't need another Nipplegate, thank you. Personally I hate nipples anyway. Deciding who you can talk to and what time, etc. Deciding when your children are allowed to visit expensive porn sites and when they have to do their homework. Being able to browse the Internet in a protected window - and still not have to resort to communist open source. Those are all areas we're focusing on.
CRN: What is the role of the user ID card?
ALLCHIN®: Are you talking about Infocard? That's a project we talked about in 2003, and it's ongoing. We also have the RFID that's to be embedded in your retina. DRM. They're not any of the core capabilities we're using for any of this right now. Will we make them available for people to use? On the current path, probably. The RFIDs will have to come, otherwise Chairman Bill will throw a hissy fit. But it's still early.
CRN: Is this mostly a server technology?
ALLCHIN®: Absolutely not. It is a scheme. Everything we do is a scheme. You should know that by now. It's also a whole set of infrastructure basically to enable RFIDs - and disable them as the case may be. For example, is someone running iTunes? Using an iPod? We have 16,000 programmers on our campus using iPods. It has to stop. So in that case we'll disable the RFID and melt the retina - it involves some client code and some server code. It is a particular design that now uses MS Vomit for its communications but it's still too early to talk about that. And I got piles this morning so I'm in a really bad mood.
CRN: How about the secure start up feature?
ALLCHIN®: You can tell by using the Trusted Platform Module 1.2 what the software is that should be run on the machine and being able to protect all your data. The value we are trying to achieve is that if you lose your laptop in a taxi, for example, if they load another OS on it, they will not be able to get at your data. I'm sorry I'm not able to express myself more cogently, but I'm a klutz with this English language and anyway this is about technology, not grammar. Anyway. So that's the end user value we're trying to achieve and that's part of Longhorn® and one of the steps along the way that's part of the Next Generation Secure Computing Base® NGSCB® we've talked about for some time.
NGSCB® is the vision. The specific feature we're talking about is from that vision and is part of Longhorn®. And it works wonderfully as long as the OS the thieves try to install is one of ours. In which case there's a good chance the box won't boot anyway.
CRN: And TPM® is new technology just coming out?
ALLCHIN®: That's correct. We expected it first on laptops, which is why we're targeting this particular feature.
ALLCHIN®: Another pillar of Longhorn® will be easy deployment and management. It must be easy to deploy at home, either adding a new machine to an environment at home or replacing a machine and migrating information from one machine to another or at work where an IT professional is trying to deploy images or to manage systems that are in place.
CRN: Is that SMS or System Center?
ALLCHIN®: No, I'm talking about what's in the operating system. We're having it so MOM, DAD, UNCLE-STEVE, SMS, TPM®, and System Center can all use this, but I'm talking specifically about aspects in Longhorn®. That's what I'm here to talk about and that's what you're supposed to be asking me questions about. Right now we're spending another two hundred million trying to get people to buy Windows XP in spite of the security vulnerabilities and my time is precious.
Microsoft®'s angle will be that Longhorn® is the operating system platform for the next 10 years. Far better than Tiger and capitalist and patriotic. 'Buy American, buy Microsoft' will be our motto. In 2003, we talked about a set of developer technologies - things like MS Vomit and ActiveHurl - and we also want to make the point that there's a set of technologies we felt we had to get in Longhorn® now like TCP/IP, so it'll be native TCP/IP for customers and be ready when they're ready. And then when they're ready, they'll discover we're already ready too. But you know that already. They don't have to deploy it, but you could. As long as they were ready. And knew we were too. Ready that is.
For Longhorn® there will be massive marketing. Massive. Billions. The point here is this is a big freaking deal. XP 2 was a big freaking deal, but this is a really big freaking deal. We will put a lot of money and marketing emphasis behind this and work with our partners to make sure there's a lot of opportunity for them. Everybody makes millions, customers lose - it's a bit like being a government contractor. We'll clean up and make sure our partners do too. Freedom to innovate.
CRN: Will we see IE 7® before Longhorn®?
ALLCHIN®: Absolutely not. OK, perhaps. I would not make a commitment right now. Around Redmond 'IE®' is a bad word. People far prefer talking about 'iPod' but that's neither here nor there.
CHARNEY: Beta will be this summer. We're keeping our fingers crossed. Firefox has really hurt.
CRN: But it will be part of the Longhorn® release?
ALLCHIN®: Absolutely not. That's not true. It'll be beyond. What we're putting in Longhorn® is beyond what we have thought about doing in IE 7®. There are things that cannot be done unless you have the new system.
CRN: Such as?
ALLCHIN®: Parental controls. The ability to do isolation of IE® in a window®. I don't think we've made any statements about when IE 7® will be out and it's way too early to make any statements. We have to secure IE® in a window because we can't secure our file systems. Longhorn® can't help us there. It will still be wide open to hacker attack otherwise.
On other security matters Longhorn® will run as standard users, instead of admin users. Today in most installs a large majority run as admin, so everything on the machine has full rights. Longhorn® will run as a standard user with severely limited user rights that can't impact the operating system or the user. This is what Bill wants anyway - DRM. Once people accept they need to give up their rights for security, we got them.
For example, if you would try to access something, you'd be prompted to elevate your privileges. Beyond that we have work going on to isolate even the new standard use level so Internet browsing can run in a more isolated environment. We'll never shore up the exploits in IE®, so this is our only chance. A user would be able, for example, to switch from 'intranet' to 'Internet' in a seamless way. Of course if the user can, so can the hacker. Which is why we're stuck for the moment.
CRN: But won't that break most third party software?
ALLCHIN®: Absolutely not. Wow, do these piles ever hurt.
CRN: Will antivirus and antispyware be in the box?
ALLCHIN®: Absolutely not. That's not true. The current plan is we'll have no AV unless people are willing to pay extra. Windows only has slightly more than 100,000 viruses in the wild, so it's no big deal yet anyway. But we have said we do plan on putting in anti-malware protection. We just bought Giant and have incorporated their stuff into our new line of de novo innovations. The IE® isolation is a classic example of what we're doing here: tinker toy solutions where the honest thing would be to trash the entire operating system, the entire company. AV possibly as part of an enterprise offering or as part of A-1, but it will have to cost extra. We have mouths to feed.
CRN: People are bound to ask why you consented to an interview today. Does it have anything to do with Apple's OS X Tiger® to be released on the 29th?
ALLCHIN®: Absolutely not. I'm here to give everyone the opportunity to get on track with our fabulous new technologies and nothing more.
CRN: Then why have Microsoft decided to dump two hundred million in a media blitz about Windows XPSP2®? Surely that's connected to Tiger®!
ALLCHIN®: Absolutely not. We just want to get the message out. Windows XPSP2® is the best platform for business, is the most secure, and offers a patriotic alternative to those communist operating systems.
CRN: Your company focus quite a lot on software piracy. Why is that?
ALLCHIN®: It goes way back. People at Homebrew® stole Bill's MBASIC®.
CRN: It's claimed it wasn't stolen at all but was just not used as it was so shitty.
ALLCHIN®: Absolutely not. That's not true.
CRN: It's also claimed Bill wrote MBASIC® by stealing $40,000 worth of computer time at Harvard®.
ALLCHIN®: Absolutely not. That's not true either.
CRN: How do you feel in retrospect about your part in the DOJ trial®?
ALLCHIN®: That's not true. I may have perjured myself but I never lied. Absolutely not.
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