At last tally, Win2K had 63,000 of 'em. It's time to bring on the service packs!

Bugs in Shrinkwrap

At last tally, Win2K had 63,000 of 'em. It's time to bring on the service packs!

Two news items are putting a gleam in Auntie’s eye. The first is that Windows 2000 seems to have shipped with a few bugs. Uh, 63,000 or so.

Now, 63,000 bugs might make for a fun afternoon for your average entomologist, ten-year-old, or Sun executive, but they’re not high on Auntie’s hit parade. Fabio is the designated hitman for all things not seafood with more than four legs in this palatial villa; Auntie just vacuums the goldfish from time to time.

The bugs come in all varieties, from “Gee, we wish this worked better,” to “Uh oh, we’re all gonna die,” if you get my drift.

Now to be fair about this, I’ve been running Win2K since Beta 3, and while a couple of the Release Candidates seemed to suck up memory like a very dry sponge, I haven’t had one visit from the Blue Screen of Death.

Did any of you expect this OS to go to manufacturing clean? Get real. Windows 2000 is huge, and even though it seems to have taken forever for Microsoft to bring it to market, there was no way it was going to come up bug-free.

That’s why Service Packs were invented, and Auntie suspects that SP1 will fix 90 percent of the existing showstopping bugs, while only introducing about a quarter of that number in new portents of doom. SP2 and its successors should do likewise, and by the time your brand new sedan is ready for the car-masher, Win2K should be chugging along with scarcely a hiccup.

Of course, by then you won’t be running it, will you? And that brings us to the second news item, and a gaze into the crystal ball. Microsoft’s plans for the post-Win2K world are starting to take shape, and those plans once again map to a merging of the Win 9x and NT/2000 lines into a single OS code base.

Do you think they’ll actually do it this time? Auntie hopes so. While I know people who still love their WordPerfect 5.x for DOS, the fact is that ISVs have had tons of time to recode or port applications to the wonderful world of 32 bits and the Windows GUI. I mean, if you haven’t recoded since 1995, what kind of support can you provide for your software, anyway? Auntie hasn’t thought about the 640K limit since the time (the one time) Fabio maxed out the Visa.

It’s a fair bet that some niche and specialty market products will get clobbered when general backward compatibility ends. This is particularly true for applications that access hardware directly, a no-no under NT/2000 rules. So if you’re responsible for an application that uses a custom serial board to monitor telemetry from the electrodes on a heart-lung machine for gerbils, better fire up that IDE and bring your code into the new millennium. You’ve got a time limit, and if you don’t get it done, little Gerry’s going to that great exercise wheel in the sky, and your customer base will soon follow suit.

Microsoft, as sluggish as it can be, eventually cleans up its code. If you want your apps taken seriously, you should do the same.

About the Author

Em C. Pea, MCP, is a technology consultant, writer and now budding nanotechnologist who you can expect to turn up somewhere writing about technology once again.

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