Microsoft Corporation began publicizing their Millennium project this week, a far-reaching operating system of the future that will work across computers connected to the global Internet. Like Microsoft's Cairo initiative, which was really just a group of technologies that were designed for a then-future version of Windows NT, Millennium isn't the code name of a specific future OS per-se, but rather a set of technologies that will likely be melded in Windows at some point.
"Our ultimate goal is to make a program run as easily on thousands of computers as it runs on a single computer," said Galen Hunt, a researcher at Microsoft Research, who leads the Millennium project together with Yi-Min Wang.
The goal here, in short, is "distributed computing," where today's network models are extended over far wider areas. Microsoft is trying to erase the distinction between local and distributed computing.
"When you make a distributed application, it's a very laborious task because a programmer has to go in and decide by hand which piece should run on the desktop computer, and which piece should run on the server, Hunt says. "In effect, the programmer has to write a new program for each additional computer. When you extend that out to 100 or 1,000 computers, it becomes completely unmanageable."
For Millennium to work, there are several things that need to happen. The most obvious is bandwidth: Even though Microsoft Explorer allows you to access a remote FTP site as if it were on your local system, the speed difference tells you otherwise. Also, Microsoft is working on self-configuring and self-tuning features, the most basic of which debuted in Microsoft Office 98 for the Macintosh and Office 2000 for Windows. And Windows 2000 will be the first operating system to feature this technology.
For more information, please visit the Microsoft Millennium Web site