Microsoft released Windows NT Advanced Server version 3.1 in 1993 (the NT stands for 'new technology'). The user interface was immediately familiar, as it was the same as the one used in Windows 3.x.
Windows NT progressed through versions 3.5 and 3.51 before Microsoft released Windows NT version 4.0 in 1996. This has the same user interface as Windows 95.
NT allowed Microsoft to attack the huge NetWare market share. It is a 32-bit network operating system that can run both 32-bit and legacy 16-bit Windows programs. In addition, it can run DOS, OS/2 and POSIX applications, which makes it more flexible than other server operating systems.
NT can be used for file and print services but also provides an excellent application server platform. It supports multiple processors and can be run on RISC as well as Intel x86 based systems.
The main features of NT are as follows:
- A sophisticated security system that is certified to the C2 level
- NT servers can be grouped into 'domains' and a single domain security database is used to add user details and provide access to resources on any of the servers
- The use of a domain simplifies and centralizes administration
- The NT file system (NTFS) provides enhanced reliability and excellent file and folder security
- NT supports IPX/SPX, NetBEUI and TCP/IP, AppleTalk and DLC protocols
- Clients supported include DOS, Windows, OS/2, UNIX and Apple Macintosh
Directory Services in NT
In Windows NT, computers can be grouped together in domains. This provides for centralized management of user and group accounts, together with a centralized security and system policy.
In Windows NT, a domain is considered as both an administrative boundary and a security boundary - which is to say that for each location, you might typically have a domain, and administrative delegation is tricky.
Domains are linked by manually created, non-transitive one-way trusts.
In truth, the Windows NT domain structure is not really a directory service as NDS or Active Directory are.
The Windows 2000 Family
Windows NT has been with us for almost eight years, and as the product has matured, Microsoft have added more features in an effort to address users' needs and administrators requirements.
With Windows 2000, they have made considerable enhancements to the product line.
Windows 2000 Professional is the preferred 32bit desktop environment, providing a combination of Windows 98 usability and Windows NT 4 reliability. New features include support for power management and plug and play (a great bonus for portable users), and support for new file system features, including EFS.
Windows 2000 server has been created in three different flavors, each with features appropriate to the target audience. All share the same core features as Windows 2000 Professional, but then add additional features.
Windows 2000 Server is the standard entry level server platform, which provides similar power to the Windows NT 4 Server product. However, it also includes support for Terminal Services and Active Directory.
Users requiring more power should opt for Windows 2000 Advanced Server, which is similar in power to Windows NT 4 Enterprise Server. It provides enhanced scalability and clustering support.
Users who need Enterprise size database or web servers should opt for the Windows 2000 DataCenter Server. This is currently the most powerful server product in the range.
Directory Services in Windows 2000
In Windows 2000, the Directory Service is provided by Active Directory - a standards based directory.
As with Windows NT, Domains provide the primary grouping of users, groups and computers. However, delegation of administration is provided by Organizational Units, and geographic considerations are implemented using Site objects.
Domains are linked in a hierarchy, called a tree. Trees are linked into forests.
All trusts are two way, automatic and transitive.
Combining NT and NetWare
Microsoft provides two possible solutions to the integration of NT and NetWare servers. These may be described as a client-based solution and a server-based solution.
This solution may be applied to both Windows 9x and NT Workstation/ Windows 2000 Professional; the client requires an additional redirector installed to allow it to talk to the NetWare servers. Assuming that the client is currently running the Microsoft redirector (Client for Microsoft Networks) and a protocol other than IPX/SPX (NWLink), the following is required:
- Add the IPX/SPX (NWLink) protocol
- For NT Workstation/Windows 2000 add Client Services for NetWare (CSNW) or for Windows 9x add the Client for NetWare networks
The server-based solution leaves the client configuration unchanged and uses the Windows NT Server/Windows 2000 Server to pass requests to the NetWare server. The Windows server requires:
- The IPX/SPX (NWLink) protocol
- Gateway Services for NetWare (GSNW)
You will also need to create a user account on the NetWare server with sufficient permissions to access resources on behalf on the clients. In addition, this account must be a member of a group, on the NetWare server, called NTGATEWAY.