Zero tolerance policy is not all bad; you have to suck it all up-overtime

So the Rat figures Microsoft Corp. is scared.


First chairman Bill Gates bad-mouthed the Java language, calling it
"lowest-common-denominator technology."


Then at PC Expo in New York this month, Microsoft vice president Steve Ballmer hammered
at network computers, warning they would mean a return to Unix administration environments
and would have incompatibilities. He offered no further specifics, though.


Finally, Microsoft showed the Rat something he could sink his fangs into: Zero
Administration Windows. The term initially startled the cyberrodent. After all, zero admin
means zero job.


What Microsoft really should call it is Zero Overtime for the Help Desk.


Yes, it appears that Zero Administration Windows will give the Rat and his minions all
sorts of power to beat the masses into submission. NCs should make it even easier to
strike fear in users' hearts.


The furry control freak can keep users from installing unauthorized applications, limit
applications they have access to from their desktop startup menus and force them to save
files to network drives.


If they have NetPCs, he can even lock down their floppy and CD-ROM drives and printers.


The Rat rubbed his paws together as he imagined configuring PCs to start automatically
and run just one application, which he could restart even if the user shut it down.


The best part: The wired one could do it all remotely.


He'll even be able to switch operating systems overnight without having to work
overtime. The server will wake up the PCs and pump the new OS to them across the network.


All this from the company that brought you incremental OS upgrades within new
application software and the wonderful Registry Editor. It's almost as if somebody at
Microsoft had read the Rat's 1997 Christmas list.


But there's a subtext that became apparent during the Windows Terminal demo.


The Redmondites apparently were saying that no one will need Java anymore; we'll just
need lots of Windows NT licenses.


At PC Expo, Ballmer stood back while a lackey demonstrated a Windows Terminal session
on a 16-MHz 386SX with 2M of RAM, running Windows 95 and NT applications from a server.
Ballmer talked about how Citrix Systems Inc. and Microsoft were going to make the same
thing possible for Apple Macintosh, Unix and even X terminal users.


Considering how Sun Microsystems Inc. has been messing up the good thing it had in
Java, the Rat doesn't doubt that Ballmer, Bill and their army can indeed persuade users,
"Windows good, Java bad."


But before they convince the rodential skeptic, they'll have to show him they can write
a version of Office that doesn't suck.


The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad
packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at rat@gcn.com.


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