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PC World

Still testing Windows 2000

October 27, 1999
Web posted at: 9:55 a.m. EDT (1355 GMT)

by Alexandra Krasne windows 2000

(IDG) -- So far, developers have written about 10 million lines of code to test Microsoft Windows 2000, which is nearing its final beta version.

Microsoft developers hope the last test version will be Release Candidate 3 (RC3), but they won't say when it, much less the final version, will appear.

But the company is "very close to Release Candidate 3," says Sanjay Jejurikar, director of test for Windows NT for Microsoft. Some reports say the last beta should ship in the second week in November.


Any version of Microsoft software is subject to a stringent testing process before engineers, developers, and test managers are satisfied that it's ready to go.

"When everything looks fine we'll ship it to testers, Jejurikar says. "It looks good so far. We basically have to double-check everything."

Microsoft employees are running an early version of RC3 at their offices, Jejurikar confirms. It's part of what Microsoft calls "dogfooding," named for a frequent assertion by President Steve Ballmer. "Microsoft eats its own dog food," Ballmer says -- meaning the Microsoft campus always runs the latest versions of its software, whether it's shipping commercially or not.

Dogs under stress

By eating its own dog food (or code), Microsoft staff use the software in real-life applications and find out exactly how well the operating system runs, then diagnose and fix problems on the spot.

Every day, Jejurikar and other managers analyze results of stress tests, vendor tests, and beta tests. From these results, they determine what needs to be fixed.

Microsoft puts a great deal of emphasis on the stress tests, which are designed to detect possible breaking points. The tests simulate the typical operations and traffic on a server, but at a vastly accelerated rate -- compressing as much as three months of transactions into an overnight run.

"Basically the stress tests makes the machine go wild running different applications," Jejurikar says. "The way the stress test is run, it's impossible for a human to actually do this. It's about the timing conditions."

The whole idea of stress tests is to red-line a server, or try to bring it to its knees, running well over the capacity that any human could possibly duplicate.

As they near the end of a test cycle, test managers vote on whether to release an update of the product. The team hasn't voted yet on RC3. One manager can delay the whole process, Jejurikar adds.

He is confident this is the last beta to ship before the final Windows 2000 is released to the public.

"We won't plan to change anything significant [between RC3 and the final version]," he says, "I don't want to think about RC4." But Microsoft will go another round of testing if it's warranted, he adds.

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