REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 19, 2000 — The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is midway through an estimated 10-year effort to develop a new Internet Protocol (IP). The update is being driven primarily by the fact that the Internet, largely due to the explosion of non-PC devices in recent years, is running out of IP addresses — the codes assigned to every Internet-enabled device, allowing connected systems to find each other.
Although more than 4 billion IP addresses are possible under the current version of the Internet Protocol (IPv4, the network layer of the TCP/IP protocol suite), available addresses will be depleted within a few years if the IP addressing system is not revised. The new protocol, IPv6, will essentially remove the IP address ceiling by converting to 128-bit addresses, thereby freeing the industry to enable as many connected devices, or communication end points, as the market demands.
Microsoft is taking a leadership role in the IPv6 effort on two fronts, according to Tony Hain, program manager for IPv6 at Microsoft. The company is actively participating in the IETF working groups to finalize the new protocol and map out an Internet transition strategy, while helping to promote IPv6 awareness and market readiness as a member of the IPv6 Forum, a consortium of leading computer and communications vendors. In addition, Microsoft is providing timely information and resources to the Windows development community, to ensure that it will be prepared for the impending switch-over.
“Industry standards are the foundation on which a thriving Internet rests, and we’re more than happy to commit time and resources to the standards bodies driving IPv6,”
said Hain, who is also co-chair of the IETF’s IPv6 transition working group.
“Our close involvement puts us in an informed, leading position not only to help define and evangelize the new protocol, but to prepare the Windows development community with IPv6 tools and resources.”
Today at the IPv6 Summit in Washington, D.C., of which Microsoft is a cosponsor, the company announced an update to its technical preview of IPv6 for Windows 2000, which is available on the MSDN Web site . The technical preview, initially distributed in March 2000, gives developers preliminary IPv6 code and additional utilities that will help them prepare their applications for smooth, successful deployment as the industry-wide conversion approaches over the coming years. With these tools, developers can use the new IPv6 protocol stack to begin testing their applications over the
IPv6-based Internet, on private IPv6 networks or
over the existing IPv4 Internet.
“Our primary focus has been to keep Windows developers informed about IPv6 and give them the tools to start preparing for the transition,”
“Multiple teams here at Microsoft are working on utilities to make this easy, including a series of ‘scrubbers’ that evaluate code and identify areas that are specific to IPv4 or other old-school IP coding, and recommend how the code should look with IPv6.”
Today’s updated IPv6 preview for Windows 2000 includes an IPv6-enabled version of Internet Explorer 5 and the addition of an .ftp client, a telnet client and server, and wininet.dll. The next release of the Windows 2000 operating system will include the IPv6 protocol and utilities provided with the technical preview, along with enough components to enable developers to prepare their applications for future versions of Windows.
While massively expanding the number of available IP addresses is perhaps the most critical improvement offered by IPv6, the protocol also enables new capabilities. IPv6 enables native peer-to-peer communication as well as autoconfiguration capabilities, which make it possible for a device to identify the network it’s connecting to and obtain access to services automatically, as appropriate for that network.
“It gives devices the ability to recognize where they are and what network they’re on, to more intelligently access the kinds of services users need in that context,”
Unlike the Y2K problem, which had a drop-dead date, a full transition to an IPv6-only Internet will last for years. Many Internet-enabled systems will never be updated and will remain native to IPv4.
“We’re taking into consideration how and when customers are going to move to this new protocol. We will be providing concurrent support for IPv4 for the foreseeable future,”
“So Windows applications will have to assume that any given network is based on IPv4 and be able to tunnel over that, unless the operating system is told specifically by the network that it’s running on IPv6.”
To keep Windows developers fully informed about the status of IPv6 development and planning, Microsoft has been proactively sharing information and code with its Windows development partners via MSDN. According to Hain, Microsoft was one of the first companies to make IPv6 available to developers, and MSDN is the first place developers go to learn about the protocols and technologies. Currently, MSDN contains the IPv6 technology preview, documentation, tools and background information.
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