It’s been 20 years since Windows NT 4.0 server operating system was released to manufacturing. No one could be sure at the time, but this breakout version turned out to be the one that would finally establish Microsoft in the datacenter.
I recently visited Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters to talk to Jeffrey Snover, Technical Fellow and creator of PowerShell — and currently the architect of Microsoft’s server operating systems. It was time to reminisce about Windows NT’s past as well as muse about its present and its future.
“Engineers overestimate what can be done in two or three years, and underestimate what can be done in 10,” Snover observes. “With 20 years we’ve evolved incredibly. What started off running on a 44MHz 486 now runs our cloud.” That ascendance has closely followed the evolution of the server in the enterprise, from departmental file server to client-server, to n-tier, to the web … and now to the cloud, both on premises and in massive datacenters.