Allchin Focuses on Building a Secure, Reliable Vista

Q&A: Jim Allchin, co-president of Microsoft's Platform Products and Services Division, who plans to retire after the late 2006 release of Windows Vista, says he wants to make the operating system a safe, secure and productive environment for users.

Microsoft Corp.s Windows client development team is working hard to get Windows Vista out by the late 2006 holiday season. Jim Allchin, the co-president of Microsofts Platform Products and Services Division, sat down with eWEEK Senior Editor Peter Galli and David Coursey, an Editor-at-Large for Ziff Davis Internet, to discuss the timetable for the rest of the year.

He also touched on topics like the succession plan when he retires at the end of this year and the development work under way for Vienna, the Windows release that follows Vista and likely to debut around 2010.

This is the last operating system you will be responsible for at Microsoft before you retire. What would you like to see it achieve?

I would like to see customers end up over time, not initially, believing that it was a very safe and secure system for them to use and that it made their lives more productive. I say over a period of time as I think it is hard to judge immediately. You will have a level of instantaneous gratification where users like the photo features or music or the way things work.

How will the Vista world be different from the XP world on the security front?

I am going to assume that you mean Windows XP SP2. I think this is a significant step up from that in terms of security, meaning this is the first system that we have gone through the Trusted Computing initiative from beginning to end, and I expect the quality in terms of the code to be much higher, which means there should be fewer vulnerabilities.

With that said, I also include safety in this: safety in terms of providing the features that somebody might want to use to protect their children in terms of Web sites that can be visited, the games that they can play and feel safe browsing around the Internet.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read why you should not trust Trusted Computing.

You are putting a lot of resources into security for Windows Vista, but how about for those customers already on Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 and who want SP3 for XP and SP2 for Windows Server 2003. When will those service packs come out?

I havent heard anyone ask for the second service pack for Windows Server 2003. I might not be in touch, but I havent heard much about that. In terms of XP, we will do a third service pack, but I feel that given what we have been doing with Windows Update—keeping people up-to-date on security fixes and through Windows Update Services for corporations—that we are doing right by our customers here.

We are applying a lot of resources in terms of completing Windows Vista, thats absolutely true, but we also have a completely separate sustaining engineering team working on improving Windows XP. So I think we have reached a reasonable balance of what were trying to do.

The Windows and Office team have both been talking about how the use of Windows Vista and Office 12 will provide a better experience. Can you give me some specific examples of that?

They have put indexing into Office 12 so that you will be able to index from down-level systems. But when you are running on Windows Vista there will only be one index and they will share the index that is on there.

Frankly, this is the first time to my knowledge that Office has ever used the Windows file open dialogue. It has been the number one request from office developers building custom solutions on top of Office. They want to be able to use the Windows file open dialogue as this will give a consistent look. There are also things like the Sideshow—being able to have a gadget in a device that works—as another example.

Next Page: Changing of the guard.