Steve Ballmer Speech Transcript – Windows 2000 Press Briefing

Remarks by Steve Ballmer
Windows 2000 Press Briefing
November 15, 1999
Las Vegas, NV

MR. BALLMER: It’s my pleasure to have a chance to be with you today.I want to spend a few minutes, and I will do a little bit of overall context setting about Windows 2000. But what I’ll do primarily, frankly, today, is talk to you a little bit about Windows 2000 on the desktop, because I don’t think that’s a topic where we’ve fully articulated some of the benefits, and some of the issues that we will face.

I feel unusual sitting here on a nightclub stage in Las Vegas talking about Windows 2000.I thought maybe I should do a tap dance, but I couldn’t tie it in logically to the Windows 2000 message.So, I guess we’ll just kind of dive right into things.

If you really ask what the dream has become, because I can’t really say this was the dream when we started on the Windows 2000 road a little over three years ago.If you ask what the dream of Windows 2000 has evolved into over the course of the development, I would say there’s really four things that we have focused on.

Number one, absolutely, and Jim is going to talk about this primarily in the context of the server — but everything he says, I think, is equally applicable to the desktop, so I won’t repeat it — is to focus in on this notion of reliability you can count on.

I had the privilege earlier today of doing a presentation along with the folks from Unisys, they set up this very large, entirely NT based data center, and they’ve had this thing running on a huge scale, 4,000 transaction a second for days, and days, and days.And, I admit, I sidled up to them privately and said, have you had any problems.You know, I’m a little concerned.It’s actually a Windows 2000 based thing.And they’ve had just an incredible experience.They’ve had one blue screen.They isolated it to a bad device driver, good feedback to us.But it gets at the kind of reliability that we absolutely have to focus on from a Windows perspective.

The second key thing, I think reliability and manageability are both key to the — I don’t know if the right word is rebirth, but to the continued momentum and energy behind the personal computer itself.This year’s PC volumes will approach 120 million.That number will be up another 15 percent.And if these devices can’t be relied upon, and if these devices can’t easily be taken care of or managed, there’s a super-huge issue.

People like to talk about thin clients, I don’t really think there’s a customer demand necessarily for thin this, that, the other thing.The real demand is to continue to focus in on making the computing environment, no matter what’s in it, more manageable — and manageable at lower cost.

The third thing, certainly, has been the incredible need to provide a platform that can support Internet scale and Internet style applications.And I guess I could say that those are really two things.First of all, to scale.If you look at the kinds of sites that the e-site builders, whether those are in large companies or start-ups, whatever, there is a certain scale about those applications, both in terms of the amount of data that they need to process, the number of transactions they need to take, the amount of data that you accumulate and you want to analyze and understand about your customers.There’s just an incredible scale to the entire operation.But perhaps more importantly is the set of services, security services, transaction services, HTML rendering services, that the platform ought to provide to make it super easy, or as easy as it can be, to author and create the kinds of Web applications and e-sites that will power the future.

The fourth and last critical thing, I think, that has to be part of all releases of Windows, is to keep helping the hardware community take full advantage of the next generation of devices.And in this world of connectivity, I guess I would include in that the newest connectivity options, as well as the new devices.So, whether that’s doing a great job of supporting wireless networking or DSL, or whatever the case may be, we have to keep pace with that inside the Windows platform itself.

The feedback from customers drove that dream, and is also in a sense consistent with that dream.What our customers are telling us in the business market about Win 98 — better reliability, better security.In NT Workstation, people give us credit for better reliability and security.We’ve had very, very positive response to Windows NT Workstation from people who have upgraded from Win 98, but they say you don’t support enough devices, and you don’t really do a very good job of supporting laptops.In the server platform, people focus in on reliability, and they focus in on the kind of scale and availability that I just mentioned.

And last, but not least, from everybody: make this stuff easier to take care of, and get rid of all of these darned application conflicts which can make it hard to manage and take care of these systems.And there’s a set of technologies, again, in Windows 2000 that help address the issue of so-called “DLL Hell,” or of running applications side-by-side in the Windows 2000 environment.

So, four key goals: be ready for the Internet, be reliable, be manageable, and be great for new devices.

I want to spend just another minute on the Internet issues because there’s a whole set of services that I think Windows 2000 starts to pioneer.For those of you who had the chance yesterday evening to attend Bill Gates’ keynote by source, I thought he did a great job.But there was one period of about five minutes where there were so many concepts that went so quickly, I think I just have to emphasize them again.

The Internet as we know it today is not the Internet as we will know it three or four years from now.And I don’t just mean the Internet, I mean the way in which Web sites and consumers interact with one another will change substantively.There will be a move in which Web sites themselves will become customizable and programmable so that, literally, you can write programs that use other Web sites as components in delivering their value, and that in some senses this change will create a set of new services.

No one Web site will do everything that the consumer wants done, but you’ll be able to bring these things together.With Windows 2000, the way we’ve integrated in the XML support, the transaction support, the queuing support, the entire subsystem, is a fundamental building block, at least in terms of our vision of this notion, which Bill referred to last night as Personal Web Services, and there’s a scalability and there’s a security aspect to that.But there is this sort of fundamental set of technology to program the Web.And Windows 2000 is not the final step in that road, far from it, but it is an essential first step.And I think we’ve done less, perhaps, than maybe we ought to have to really emphasize that value.

Jim is going to talk today primarily about reliability, because that is job one in many senses, in terms of what people want on the system.I’m going to speak a little bit, primarily to desktop manageability, although the manageability problem is quite a bit broader, and then there’s the whole subject of new devices.

I want to focus my comments today, though, on the desktop, because I don’t think we’ve said that much about the Windows 2000 desktop program. I have great promise, great hope for the product, particularly for the business user.It’s just spot on.We’ve moved about 80 percent of all Microsoft users from Windows 98 to Windows 2000 — the 98 team itself, they kind of think it would be bad form for them to move.Some of the games developers, et cetera, have stayed primarily on 98.But Windows 2000 Professional, which is the desktop version, brings together the best of what we’ve had in Windows NT 4 with the best of 98 for the business user.

The ease of use that 98 brought, the integrated Web capabilities, the mobile and laptop support, the broad device support.And while there’s still legacy dependent systems, the Windows 2000 Professional desktop product does address the next generation scanners, digital cameras and multi-function devices in Windows 2000 Professional.And we couple that with the reliability, the security, the performance, and the manageability not only of NT 4, but the set of improvements we’ve made.And for each of the major class of audience who we think will be interested in the desktop products, small businesses, end users in businesses large and small, and for corporate IT departments, there’s a set of important enhancements.

First, for knowledge workers, and I want to take it piece by piece.Reliability, you’ll hear about everything Jim has to say, just take the notion that the system files are all protected, the users can’t delete important parts of the system.They can’t cause trouble.There can’t be errant behavior that makes the system fundamentally less reliable than it otherwise would be.The system is dynamically configurable.There are many, many fewer spots where you need to go offline and reboot to reconfigure the system.

We have a process of certifying applications for Windows 2000 to help guarantee higher levels of system reliability.We’ve extended support for laptops.In addition to standby, we’ve built in hibernate and smart battery support to extend the lifetime that you get running Windows 2000 on a laptop machine.

Plug and Play is fully implemented, drivers are stored on the disk, so you take your machine wherever you want.You can configure and reconfigure depending upon the environment where you’re plugging in.The file system is encrypting.So, if you want to put information on your laptop in a very secure form lest you lose it or have another problem with it, that works very well.Support for offline use so that you can mark a set of files for use online and offline, and to have those automatically synchronized so the changes you make offline get propagated back to the servers, and before you undock changes that you made come with you before you go on the road.

We’ve improved the dial-up support, the DSL support, roaming user support.So, literally, if you want to come up to a machine anywhere and log in as yourself, you get your applications, your profiles, et cetera.Support for new devices, some of the new legacy free PCs that don’t bring some of the complicated and fundamentally unreliable baggage of the past, support for infrared, which we’ll have a chance to show you today, which I think is nice, and then, of course, smart cards, scanners, cameras, et cetera.

I’m going to invite now Sarah Lefko from our Windows 2000 team to come on stage and join me.Sarah is going to do a little bit of a demonstration of the Windows 2000 desktop and what it means for the average knowledge worker, people like you and me.


MS. LEFKO:Thanks, Steve.

I’m running Windows 2000 Professional as a knowledge worker.Now, the first point that I want to make is that my administrator makes sure that my machine and everything on it is managed really well.And I have all the applications that I need on my machine.So, if I go to programs, I have Word, I have Excel, I have WinZip, I have everything that I need to do my job everyday.So, not only do they make sure my applications are available to me, but they make sure they’re always available to me.

So, sometimes end users will go out and actually delete files by accident, or clean up their hard disks.So, I’m going to go ahead and be one of those end users, and I’m going to go into program files.Now, the first thing you’ll notice is actually this is a soft barrier.So, we’ve actually tried to stop people from going and actually looking at files or deleting files.You actually have to have make a choice.

So, I click on show files, and I’m going to go in and actually delete a couple executables, I think this is an executable, but I don’t think I need that.And here’s a .DLL.

MR. BALLMER:If the administrator wanted to completely lock this, they could do that as well.

MS. LEFKO:Absolutely.

So, I’m going to go ahead now and, as an end user, I’m just going to start using that application, because I should be able to use that application.I’m going to go ahead and go to programs, go over to WinZip, and start running WinZip.Now, as you can see, it actually has gone out and actually found the files that were missing and reapplied them to my machine.So, as the knowledge worker, I just keep working.

MR. BALLMER:So, we’re using the intelligence in the directory to keep this machine always up to date.

MS. LEFKO:That’s right.The other thing from a knowledge worker perspective is to make sure you always have the resources available to you.So, I want to make sure, here I’m at Comdex, I want to find all of the printers available to me.So, I can go up and tell it search for printers, and I actually can type in Comdex as a location.I can go over the features tab and actually look for the printers that actually can print color.So, I can go ahead and do a find now.And it’s going out and found that printer for me with the right attributes that I was looking for.All I need to do is right mouse click and connect to this machine and I’m using it as my printer.

Now, everything I’ve just shown you here is actually running on a new class of hardware.Right here I have an Intel prototype of a legacy-free type machine.And what this has actually done is, as you had mentioned, focused on removing some of those historical issues with some of those types of connections, like parallel ports and serial ports.And we make sure we just have USB devices, and PCMCIA cards in this box.

The other part of the knowledge worker is not only just working at their desktop, but also mobile, as you had mentioned.Over here, I’m running Windows 2000 Professional on this small form factor.I actually have a wireless network connected to that.

MR. BALLMER:So, on this very small device we’re running Win 2000 Professional, there’s the wireless network card.

MS. LEFKO:Yes, a wireless network card.I actually also have attached to it a USB smart card.So, what I’m going to do is to take this smart card, plug this in, it’s going to prompt me for my PIN, I’ll try to make sure everyone can see that.I’m going to go ahead and type in my PIN number, and it’s going to authenticate me onto the system.


MS. LEFKO:Great.So, I’m going to log onto this system, and we’re going to go ahead, and what we’re going to look at is now I’m a mobile worker.And what I want to be able to do is actually to take information with me when I go away is one of the key features there.So, what I have here is a connection to a network share.Let me go ahead and show you that.Someone will show us that.

MR. BALLMER:Great.Did we lose our camera here?

MS. LEFKO:Did I step on something?Here we go.

MR. BALLMER:I think we’re not supposed to lean on that button.

MS. LEFKO:Okay, perfect.

MR. BALLMER:I’m not sure.He didn’t say anything, but I suggest we don’t lean.I don’t know which one of us did that.

MS. LEFKO:All right.Okay, so now what I’m going to go do is to go up to the network, go to my team share over here, and I’m going to pick up a couple of files and folders that I need.I’m going to go ahead and right mouse click and say, make available offline.What this is actually doing is synchronizing back down to my machine.And I’m going to take this trip report with me, too, because I need to work that when I go back over to the expo booth.

MS. LEFKO:Okay.Close it up.Now, what I want to do is to show you how we can take this, and then walk away and have the files available to me.So let me go down and actually close out of — stop these devices.

MR. BALLMER:So you’re just shutting off the network?

MS. LEFKO:I’m just shutting off the network, and I’m going to go ahead and shut off the USB device, for proper handling.So I’m going to go ahead and take out the wireless network cards, and take out the USB device.Now when I go back up to my computer, now I’m offline, I’m not on the network.You’ll notice here I have a little red mark saying it’s disabled, I’m offline.But, you’ll notice, I have the information available to me, I have the documents, I have the folders and everything available to me, so that I can go ahead and work on them.

Now, if I change some of these files, I log back out to the network, automatically it would synchronize for me, I would have a consistent version along the way.So naturally what I want to do is to — we were going to work on that trip report a little bit later.So we’re going to take this over to your machine over here, and I’m going to go ahead — what I’m going to show you is the infrared technology they have both in the Sony Picturebook, as well as in this Toshiba.So I’m going to go ahead and connect that up.Hear the noise there.

MR. BALLMER:It found you.

MS. LEFKO:It found me.I’m going to go ahead and right mouse click on this, and I’m actually going to send this over to you, the infrared recipient.

MR. BALLMER:I should point out, I have enabled my machine to receive.I can set some security so people can’t beam software onto my machine, but we just beamed.Okay.

MS. LEFKO:And notice right now on your desktop you have the trip report that we’re going to work on later.

MR. BALLMER:People can see, there’s the document that Sarah copied off the network.

MS. LEFKO:You don’t have Office.

MR. BALLMER:I don’t have Office 2000.

MS. LEFKO:But, you’ll notice, it’s actually going out and installing it for you.

MR. BALLMER:Yes, and we’re probably not going to let it finish that process.

MS. LEFKO:So basically what I’ve shown you is on a desktop for mobile workers, and the things we’d be able to do for a manager environment, as well as on a mobile user.

MR. BALLMER:Great.Super.

MS. LEFKO:Thanks.

MR. BALLMER:Thanks, Sarah.


MR. BALLMER:So from an end user perspective, if you just take a look at the desktop, I’m not talking about IntelliMirror, the Active Directory, the new queuing services, the scalability, the new availability features, just the desktop, just for a user like me, I’ll tell you it’s been a real step forward, and I think it’s important to highlight that.From the standpoint of people in IT, one of the great issues perhaps for the PC overall is this issue of are PCs going to be sort of simple enough to take care of.Reliability is part of that, but so is the ease at which new releases of operating systems and applications can be deployed.With Windows 2000 we put in a set of tools to try to make it simpler to do OS deployment, to prepare the systems, to duplicate disks, to do remote OS installation across the network, and to manage the deployment of service packs onto desktops.

In terms of application and user data management, the IntelliMirror capability, which talks to the directory, which understands what needs to be on each machine, which can cache from a central server all of the programs, the data, the user settings that somebody needs, you have great capability to centralize the management of applications, and take out a lot of the costs associated with touching a bunch of desktops.And in terms of centralized management, Win 2000 provides additional support for detecting hardware and software inventory, and doing centralized diagnosis of faults the come up.It’s very important, because for all of the discussion that we have of Windows NT as a server platform, it’s Windows 2000 in terms of what it means for the future of the PC as a robust desktop, that I think could be even more important.

Laura Gashlan, who is a customer of ours in the IT department at the Prudential says, we’re looking for Windows 2000’s Active Directory and policy management capability to help reduce TCO in both the connected and the disconnected environment.We’ve had a set of about 70 customers working with us in early joint development, and now rapid deployment experiences and the kind of feedback we’ve had both to the benefits, and to the issues we need to address has really been quite incredible.

From a small business perspective, if you look at the acceptance today of Windows NT Workstation, it’s really been quite strong in large business.Of all business computers today, as many as 40 percent might come with Windows NT Workstations preinstalled.But, if you look at small business that number would be much lower, perhaps as low as 10 percent.Certainly, all of the benefits that I highlighted for the knowledge worker apply very directly to the small business case.But, there are some other things that I think are important.We’ve enhanced the user interface, it is simpler to take care of a Windows 2000 Workstation than it was a Windows NT Workstation for the end user who may not have regular IT support, as many small businesses do not.

We’ve improved the level of interoperability between NetWare and Windows NT Servers, since there is still a lot of NetWare to be found, particularly in smaller businesses.We’ve built directly into the Windows NT Server the so-called terminal services support, which has been available as an add-on to Windows NT 4.0.Why is that important?In many smaller and larger businesses too, but particularly smaller businesses we’ve seen great interest in having people for remote solutions, to avoid deployment of applications, simply use application in a terminal application and some applications in a terminal emulation mode.So products like Microsoft Office that the end user is richly involved with might actually run on the client machine, some of the more less frequently used applications would run centrally.

And we’ve provided capabilities that allow the management of these Windows 2000 desktops to be outsourced, so that somebody can provide a service that does remote administration, centralized desktop management support, et cetera.One of the partners who I think is doing some of the most interesting work in this area is a company called Centerbeam, Sheldon Laud is the chairman and CEO.And he comments, and I’ll explain their business in just a minute, we can actually protect parts of the system, like the network drivers, to make sure that users can’t change them.It used to be that either a user had complete access or nothing.

Centerbeam’s basic business model is to say to a small company, we’ll take care of everything for you.We, from our central facilities, will manage your desktops.You need a DSL connection, but we’ll deploy the software, we’ll manage it, we’ll take care of it for you, in some senses, we are your IT department.And Centerbeam is announcing today a promotion in this environment where you can get the first three months of their managed service free in the Windows 2000 environment.And their prices are roughly $160-170 a month, which means it’s a $500 value, because they think they can really distinguish themselves in managing these desktop machines around Windows 2000 Professional.

If you take a look at it, we think Windows 2000 is, as a desktop product, ready for business.Today we have hardware manufacturers building Windows 2000-ready PCs, and we will have manufacturers hit the market with Windows 2000 preinstalled when we ship on February 17th.We have a set of tools that we can provide customers to help check whether their machines, or their environments are Windows 2000 ready, are my applications going to be supported, are my device drivers going to be supported or not.We do have an upgrade that we’ll bring out with Windows 2000 that will upgrade you from NT 4.0 or earlier releases of NT, or from Windows 95/98 to Windows 2000 Professional.We’ll have a set of certified applications and drivers that people will be able to locate on our Web site.And, as I said, the terminal services capability will be built in.

One of the most important things I think we’ll have with Windows 2000 is the ability to update the system to become more compatible even with the installed base over time.So we will be able to download small pieces of code to Windows 2000 that will actually, as we have people report issues of compatibility, be able to take the systems and make them compatible with applications that for one reason or another we failed to find during our testing process.

It’s certainly the case that the target for Windows 2000 Professional has been primarily business.And in some senses I think that was absolutely the right design goal.I know we’re going to have some consumers who rush out and buy it.I have people in the press, customers tell me all the time, if Windows 2000 is as reliable as you say it is, or more significantly if it’s as reliable at home as it is on the machines that I’ve installed it in, in my company, let’s put this on consumer machines, as well.And we hope to be able to have a level of compatibility fairly quickly after the shipment of Windows 2000 with these downloadable code modules that makes it run even some of the stranger legacy games and education products in the marketplace.

There’s a lot of momentum for Windows 2000.There’s already 2000 applications that are ready for Win 2K.We’ve got 81 tested Windows 2000 ready systems today.We’ve tested on over 4000 systems in the installed base, 5000 supported devices, 600,000 betas, I can’t say every one of those has been super active, but people have had a chance to experiment with the product, and we’ve trained almost 140,000 IT professionals.

Windows 2000, we talk a lot about it for the Internet, we talk a lot about the directory, the management, and the reliability.The thing I want to really bear down on today is the importance of Windows 2000 Professional for the small business, the knowledge worker, desktops, and the support that corporate IT and outsource partners like Centerbeam will provide.

And with that, I’m going to break and turn things over Jim Allchin.Jim is going to drill into the question of Windows 2000 reliability, a topic on which we’ve had a lot of questions.And with that, Jim Allchin.

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