SNEAKER.NET

Q.
When can we expect Microsoft Windows NT 5.0 to arrive? Should I wait for it before
upgrading systems?


A. No doubt Microsoft Corp. representatives are tired of saying, “I don’t
know,” but that’s the answer they give. The second beta release of NT 5.0 came
out last month, and it will stay in the field for an undetermined time to make sure the
kinks are worked out. Remember, NT is in fact two operating systems—Workstation and
Server.


The incoming bug reports merely duplicate earlier known bugs, and when those have been
fixed, Microsoft will proceed with Beta 3. How long that will stay in the field, no one
knows.


If I were betting, I’d predict a final version of NT 5.0 about a year from now. If
the bugs aren’t too numerous, I’d even say the summer of 1999.


Rumor has it Microsoft is scaling back a few features in NT 5.0 to achieve a 1999
release date. If that’s the case, sometime in 2000 we might see a Service Pack 1
upgrade to NT 5.1, NT 5.5, NT 2000 or some such version number. The pack will patch
problems as well as add features that were left out of the initial OS releases.


Q. Are dual-processor workstations worth the extra money?


A. Two are not always better than one. Whether a dual-processor system is worth the
extra cost depends on the applications it will run.


Only a limited number of apps can take advantage of two processors working in tandem.
High-end databases, for example, can take advantage of the extra CPU for crunching massive
amounts of data. But ordinary office applications such as word processors get no benefit
from dual CPUs.


Applications that render high-end 3-D drawings may or may not be able to exploit both
processors. Consider buying a high-end graphics accelerator instead of the second
processor.


Q. Is there any reason why I should buy a DVD-ROM drive instead of a CD-ROM
drive in PCs or notebooks?


A. Not really. Government applications for digital video disk technology are somewhat
limited, as the industry hasn’t yet settled on a writable DVD standard.


A DVD holds 4.7G to 17G of data—more than eight times as much as a standard
CD-ROM. DVD applications at present are mostly games and entertainment. When a writable
standard finally emerges, DVD may become a high-end storage option, but even then, it will
have limited value in government.


There’s no harm in buying DVD in systems now because DVD drives can read CD-ROMs.
But by the time DVD is in wide use, you likely will have retired the PCs or notebooks
you’re buying now.


The Sneaker Sleuth is on the case. Got a baffling bug? Sneaker.Net’s author,
GCN Lab manager Michael Cheek, will answer questions about common computer problems. Send
your query to sneaker@gcn.com. If your question
appears, you’ll receive a GCN T-shirt.
 

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