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SuperSite Flashback: In the Beginning, There Was NT 5.0

SuperSite Flashback: In the Beginning, There Was NT 5.0

I miss NT, I really do

This is where it all began. Excited by Microsoft’s plans to combine its NT and 9x product lines in Windows NT 5.0, I started the SuperSite for Windows in August 1998, almost exactly 15 years ago. And then everything changed. Microsoft’s plans. The site name (repeatedly). And the range of topics which I covered here.

Note: This week I’m taking my first actual vacation in over 10 years. Each day while I’m gone, I’ll be revisiting classic SuperSite articles from the past with additional commentary and imagery. This article concerns the very first articles I ever published on this site, Windows NT 5.0 Beta 2 Technical Reviewer's Workshop Reviewed and Windows NT 5.0 Workstation Beta 2 Review.

I attended the two-day Windows NT 5.0 Beta 2 Technical Reviewer’s Workshop in August 1998 and what I learned of Microsoft’s plans for NT impressed me so much that I started this site. Here’s how I advertised the new site in WinInfo, which dates back to 1995:

“To celebrate the release of Windows NT 5.0 Beta 2, I've launched the WinInfo Windows NT 5.0 SuperSite, a collection of news, reviews, and information about Windows NT 5.0 Beta 2. Current information includes part one of my Windows NT 5.0 Technical Reviewers Workshop review, a complete review of Windows NT 5.0 Workstation, and more! The SuperSite will be updated weekly with new information, including a special "Technology Showcase" feature that explains the key technologies in NT 5.0 using language any computer user could understand. Cut through the hype and visit the SuperSite today!”

I’m semi-embarrassed by my early efforts here, though you can of course see the same basic writing style emerge. But you can always tell the young tech writer (we didn’t have blogs or bloggers in 1998) by his travelogue-like description of his incredibly uninteresting trip. There’s a lot of that in my Windows NT 5.0 Beta 2 Technical Reviewer's Workshop Reviewed, and when I see the young blogger kids make this same mistake today I always cringe a bit in understanding.

But there are some good bits.

“I don't think the crowd was listening more closely to any part of the conference than the couple of minutes Jim Allchin spent discussing the release date of Windows NT 5.0. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question: Rightfully so, Allchin says that Microsoft will ship Windows NT 5.0 when its customers say it’s ready. Specifically, members of the Rapid Deployment Program (RDP), a group of Fortune 100 business partners, is working closely with Microsoft to ensure that the product is as good as it can be. According to Microsoft, RDP members are responsible for finding the most bugs in Windows NT 5.0 (beta testers only find 10%) and these early adopters are given a huge say in the direction NT 5.0 will take. Another criteria for shipping is that no so-called ‘Sev-1’ bugs (that is, ‘showstoppers’) must exist in the code before Microsoft will ship it. Microsoft will be running its 1000+ production servers and 20,000+ desktops on Windows NT 5.0 before they ship it to the public as well. This process, which is known as ‘eating your own dog food,’ ensures that Microsoft itself is in a position to be its own biggest customer. If it's not good enough for Microsoft, they won't ship it.”

Ah. The good ol’ days.

By the way, I was very interested to see that a transcript of Jim Allchin’s talk of at this event is semi-miraculously still available on Microsoft’s web site. Check out Speech Transcript - Jim Allchin, NT Reviewer's Workshop for a taste. Amazing stuff.

In Windows NT 5.0 Workstation Beta 2 Review, I got perhaps overly-geeky about a new workstation OS. Lots of exclamation points in there.

By way of unique additional content, here are my actual notes from the workshop. This was before tablets, before OneNote, so I took these notes with a real pen on real paper. I don’t remember why or when I scanned them in, but they’re in the archives.

Tomorrow, I’ll share some pretty amazing Longhorn videos with you. I think you’ll be pleased. :) 

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