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  1. Technology
July 16, 1998


By CBR Staff Writer

While today’s programmers and users do not generally worry about memory blocks, processor registers or disk sectors – the operating system takes care of that work – future generations of distributed technologies will mean that the same people will no longer have to worry about individual servers or clients, file systems or network resources as they often do today. As previously mentioned (CI No 3,453), Microsoft Corp’s research group is creating these kinds of distributed operating system technologies under a research project called Millennium. There’s no indication of when any of the work will be available or how it will roll out. Millennium, Microsoft says, will not only include self-healing features, but create a distributed network operating system that removes all the boundaries between clients and servers and between the servers themselves, turning the network into a single computer. Microsoft envisages a network administrator setting up a new office network and loading a Millennium DVD disk which the propagates itself around the network. Then the office network connects with the wider corporate network or other external resources. New clients plug into the network and automatically become Millennium members. It sound similar to the kinds of federations of Java virtual machines which Sun Microsystems Inc is seeking to create with Jini and other Java technologies, although Microsoft says Sun works are Java-only compared with its multi-language approach. True, but then Microsoft is focused on a single platform, Windows, while Java runs wherever a JVM is present. Millennium is intended to provide a unified view of networks, seamless distribution as well as determining where computations occur and where data resides. It will transparently handle failures or the removal of machines, network links or other resources without loss of data or functionality. Eliminating downtime completely is an implicit goal of Millennium, Microsoft says. Network links and applications will be automatically configured and offer a single image of the system to users. It will make storage, location and distribution seamless to developers and provide just-in-time bindings to data and resources so they are only used when required. It will include applications that exhibit abstract virtual machine semantics so they can be maintained across different platforms. Raising the level of abstraction where the underlying system becomes increasingly invisible to programmer and user is inevitable says Microsoft. It regards Lucent Technologies Inc’s Inferno operating as sharing similar goals to Millennium.


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