Microsoft goes Active
Andrew North gets a sneak preview of the software giant's new cross-platform operating system
Monday 11 November 1996
It is called the Active Platform concept and its release came with more than the usual quota of jargon and techno-babble. Essentially, the idea is to allow any machine to be able to talk to any other, whether it is a PC, an Apple Macintosh or a Spark server, and regardless of whether it is connected over the Internet or an intranet. The concept will be based around the Windows NT Server 5.0 and Windows 97 operating systems, which are due to be released in beta form next year.
Microsoft announced the new approach at a conference in Long Beach, California, attended by some 3,500 software developers. They left the conference with a stack of CD-Roms containing preview versions of Windows NT 5.0, which they can use to develop future applications in time for the full launch of the operating system.
Some developers expressed concern at the impregnable position the new system could give Microsoft. But the usual cynicism about the company seemed to have been suspended among many. "It is a major leap," said one developer. "Microsoft is being more open with its system codes than it's ever been and it will allow us to create all sorts of applications that weren't possible before."
One feature of the system is much tougher security, which Microsoft claims will ensure that data is just as safe when it is transferred on the Internet as on company intranets.
Although aimed primarily at businesses, the Active Platform concept could revolutionise computing in general, allowing all kinds of previously separate functions to be interconnected. "We are not far off the concept of the home server which you leave on 24 hours a day to handle all sorts of needs," said Paul Maritz, vice president of Microsoft's platforms group.
The Active Platform concept is a key bridge along the road to Bill Gates's vision of "Information at your fingertips" (or IAYF, in the acronym-loving world of computing). This would mean that you could retrieve any information, or buy any service or product, via a computer, with the bare minimum of commands, perhaps just using your voice.
Mr Gates first espoused his IAYF vision back in 1990 and he says it is already much closer to reality, in large part due to the Internet. "People no longer think of their PC just as a word-processor or for running spreadsheets. They see it as a general communications device," he said.
Speaking to the conference via satellite from London, he added: "We get a B-grade for our efforts to achieve IAYF so far."
There is still time for other companies to catch up, if they run
Life & Style blogs
Is it the end of the road for three-point turn in driving test?
Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
Coke milk? Coca-Cola to launch premium milk brand called Fairlife
Black Friday: best UK tech deals on iPads, Macs, PS4 and more
A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
David Cameron sets out immigration reforms: We should distrust Ukip and their 'snake-oil of simple solutions'
Ukip mocked after mistaking Westminster Cathedral – for a mosque
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
- 1 School playground evacuated over 'unusually aggressive' grey squirrel
- 2 Hollywood actor Mickey Rourke beats opponent 33 years his junior in exhibition boxing match
- 3 Jennifer Lawrence scores first UK top 40 single with Hunger Games track 'The Hanging Tree'
- 4 Today was a bad day for renters, landlords, and democracy
- 5 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...
£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...
£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...
£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...