Microsoft Touts Vistas Restart Manager Feature

Microsoft's Jim Allchin says the feature is expected to allow users to update the operating system or applications without having to reboot.

Microsoft Corp. is working on a significant new feature for Windows Vista, known as Restart Manager, which is designed to update parts of the operating system or applications without having to reboot the entire machine.

Microsoft officials have not talked much publicly about this new feature, but Jim Allchin, the co-president of Microsofts platform products and services division, recently told eWEEK that this is an example of just how important the reboot issue was to the Redmond-based software giant.

"If a part of an application, or the operating system itself, needs to updated, the Installer will call the Restart Manager, which looks to see if it can clear that part of the system so that it can be updated. If it can do that, it does, and that happens without a reboot," he said.

"If you have to reboot, then what happens is that the system, together with the applications, takes a snapshot of the state: the way things are on the screen at that very moment, and then it just updates and restarts the application, or in the case of an operating system update, it will bring the operating system back exactly where it was," Allchin said.

If a user has Office 12 running on Windows Vista and the system has to do an update of either of them, and the user goes home leaving open files, the system would update and the screens would come back right to where they were before, Allchin said.

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead more here about how Microsoft may have dropped the Office open standards ball.

The brief information on Restart Manager on Microsofts MSDN Windows Vista Developer Center Web site, says Restart Manager will work with Microsoft Update, Windows Update, Microsoft Windows Server Update Services, Microsoft Software Installer, and Microsoft Systems Management Server "to detect processes that have files in use and to gracefully stop and restart services without the need to restart the entire machine. Applications that are written to take advantage of the new Restart Manager features can be restarted and restored to the same state and with the same data as before the restart."

Anthony Risicato, the general manager for search and contextual at 360i LLC in New York, told eWEEK that Restart Manager is a concept that, in a vacuum, seems like a wonderful idea.

"Get the latest and "greatest the minute its available. But I do not like it, because it is trying to solve the effect, and not the cause," he said.

He also said he is cautiously optimistic that Microsoft would be able to get Restart Manager to do what they say it will if they "decide to take the time to do it right, with an emphasis on testing and quality assurance. But they must still overcome the inherent weaknesses on the Windows platform as related to file corruption, shared memory space, etc."

But Allchin told eWEEK that Restart Manager is an example of where the reboot problem has been something that Microsoft has been focusing on "and it is so important as continuous updating is the world of the future, where there will be a constant flow of updates," he said.

/zimages/6/28571.gifTo read more about Jim Allchins thoughts on 20 years of Windows development from an eWEEK interview, click here.

There would be an option in both Microsoft Update and Windows Update where users would be able to "select and say I want everything from Microsoft. Give me the best that you have, keep me updated to the best you have, not just for security fixes, but for everything. With that type of situation, you cannot have the machine rebooting a lot. Its not that there wont be reboots, there will be, but we are certainly trying to minimize them to a large degree," he said.

Next Page: Constant change.