Windows NT Operating System
Windows NT History.
Since it was first released in 1993, Microsoft Windows NT Server has established itself as the network operating system (NOS) of choice for countless organizations of all sizes in private industry and public agencies. They have discovered that Windows NT Server is extremely reliable, highly scalable, and capable of handling the complex, mission-critical demands of even large Fortune 500 corporations. But the widespread adoption of Windows NT Server stems from more than just its operating system capabilities. What IT managers in every industry are discovering is that Windows NT Server provides a complete and solid platform for an all-encompassing range of services and activities. It combines the best aspects of an application server, a file and printer server, a communications server, and a Web server — along with interoperability and management features that make it an excellent NOS for organizations, whether they have mixed computing environments or operate entirely on Windows NT Server.
?Windows NT provides the backbone for a complete, organic system, where all elements working together seamlessly. When joined with other Windows NT-related products, including the BackOffice family of applications and Windows NT Workstation, Windows NT Server provides the foundation for a powerful and well integrated environment. That integration means that administrators and developers can focus on their jobs, instead of spending time and money wrangling with disparate systems and applications.?1
Windows NT runs across both Intel- and RISC- based architectures, providing maximum flexibility and minimizing the number of operating system platforms that businesses need to support.
Windows NT runs 32-bit applications , and many 16-bit applications. That’s because each 16-bit application can run as a separate, multi-tasked process in its own memory address space–isolated from other active applications. This multi-tasking process also boosts application speed and responsiveness, and provides maximum data and application protection.
Windows NT is also licensed for use on Symmetric Multi Processing (SMP) servers with up to eight processors for high scalability. Versions of Windows NT Server, available from select system vendors support even larger SMP servers? up to 32-processor support. Large SMP servers running Windows NT Server represent a powerful upgrade path for enterprise applications that need to handle more users and data.
NT Enterprise Edition’s 4 GB Memory Tuning feature (4GT) supports servers that have up to 4 GB of RAM. This new capability allows memory-intensive applications running on the OS to use up to 50 percent more RAM on 32-bit Intel-architecture servers. 4GT does this by reducing the potential RAM allocated to the Windows NT kernel from 2 GB to 1 GB and increasing the potential RAM allocated to applications from 2 GB to 3 GB. The result can dramatically improve performance.2
The high level of security in Windows NT provides benefits in both standalone and connected environments, and works regardless of your choice of network operating system. That’s because Windows NT a virtual gate through which all users, resources, and applications must pass–giving comprehensive control and security. The security features in Windows NT Workstation include:
? User authentication and access control
? Industry standard-based certificates to verify the origin of unknown code
? The Windows NT File System (NTFS) to protect the file system and its contents
? Auditing to identify potential risks
? Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) for secure Internet connections
With Windows NT, you control which users and applications have access to your crucial data, line-of-business applications, and base operating system–so you can keep your system safe from tampering or user error. And you can set separate user profiles on a single desktop, each with its own set of clearances and prohibitions.
?A secure network system has many characteristics. A baseline measurement of a secure operating system is the U.S. National Security Agency’s criteria for a C2-level secure system. Although C2 security is a requirement of many U.S. Government installations, its substantial value extends to any organization concerned about the security of its information.?3
The operating system must protect data stored in memory for one process so that it is not randomly reused by other processes. For example, Microsoft? Windows NT? Server operating system protects memory so that its contents cannot be read after it is freed by a process. In addition, when a file is deleted, users must not be able to access the file’s data even when the disk space used by that file is allocated for use by another file. This protection must also extend to the disk, monitor, keyboard, mouse, and any other devices.
Each user must uniquely identify himself or herself. In the Windows NT Server operating system, this is achieved by typing a unique logon name and password before being allowed access to the system. The system must be able to use this unique identification to track the activities of the user. Also, system administrators must be able to audit security-related events and the actions of individual users. Access to this audit data must be limited to authorized administrators.
In addition to meeting the U.S. Government’s C2 requirements, there are certain real world security problems that a fully secure system must also solve. These real world security issues tend to fall into two categories: managing security and using security. Windows NT Server is designed to meet the requirements for a C2 secure system while also providing excellent tools for both managing and using these comprehensive security features.
The requirements for a C2 secure system are articulated by the U.S. Department of Defense’s National Computer Security Center (NCSC) in the publication Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria, also known as the Orange Book. All systems, whether they are network operating systems or standalone operating systems, are evaluated under the criteria set forth in the Orange Book. Windows NT Server was designed from the ground up to comply with the NCSC’s Orange Book requirements. Microsoft and the NCSC have worked closely throughout development to ensure that both Windows NT Workstation and Windows NT Server comply with the government’s requirements for a C2 secure system.
The NCSC has published different interpretations of the Orange Book. These interpretations clarify Orange Book requirements with respect to specific system components. For example, the NCSC’s Trusted Network Interpretation of the Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria, or Red Book is an interpretation of Orange Book security requirements as they would be applied to the networking component of a secure system. The Red Book does not change the requirements, it simply indicates how a network system should operate in order to meet Orange Book requirements for a C2 secure system. Although C2 security is a requirement of many U.S. Government installations, its value extends to any organization concerned about the security of its information.
Windows NT also supports security in confronting the highly challenging security environment of the Internet. Windows NT, in combination with Internet Explorer 4.0, lets you establish various levels of trust zones for a comprehensive approach to managing high-risk unknown sites, moderate-risk known extranet sites, as well as low-risk intranet sites.
Windows NT Server stores user account information, including a derivative of the user account password, in a secure portion of the registry protected by access control and an obfuscation function. The account information in the registry is only accessible to members of the administrators group. Windows NT Server, like other operating systems, allows privileged users who are administrators to access all resources on the system. For users who require enhanced security, strong encryption of account password derivative information provides an additional level of security to prevent administrators from intentionally or unintentionally accessing password derivatives using registry-programming interfaces.
Strong encryption protects private account information by encrypting the password data using a 128-bit cryptographically random key, known as a password encryption key.
NT World Wide Web Service. (IIS v.4)
The Web is transforming the way organizations communicate and conduct business. Each day, companies are finding new ways to exploit Internet technology, not only for tapping into virtually unlimited reservoirs of information, but for building new communications infrastructures that are easily accessed with browsers such as Microsoft? Internet Explorer. Intranets and extranets are an increasingly common means for establishing powerful avenues of communications, internally as well as externally for communicating with customers, partners, and suppliers.
By unifying the Web server into the operating system, Windows NT Server minimizes the traditional scenario in which additional software, and sometimes hardware, must be licensed to design, deploy, and manage Web applications.3 Windows NT Server includes software required for creating intranets, commerce-enabled Web sites, and extranets. Included tools run the gamut from basic, entry-level Web page creation software to sophisticated scripting tools.
Custom and line-of-business applications: More and more businesses need the flexibility of buying or building applications, depending on the tasks at hand. Today there are literally thousands of applications designed from inception to maximize the management and performance features of Windows NT Server. If an organization needs an application that is not available off the shelf, Windows NT Server meshes seamlessly with rich development tools — including the Microsoft Visual Studio? development system — and Microsoft SQL ServerTM to provide a unified, easy-to-use environment for unlimited application development potential.
The combination of Web and operating system services in Windows NT Server 4.0 makes it possible for the first time to deploy scalable and reliable Web-based applications. Windows NT Server 4.0 incorporates Internet Information Server 4.0 (IIS)services, enhancing the operating system into a singular, cohesive platform that combines easy, reliable applications services with comprehensive Web services.
IIS also supports multiple Web server scenarios, ranging from simple Web sites on a corporate intranet to large Internet Service Provider (ISP) Web-hosting farms. Specifically, IIS 4.0 accommodates multiple Web sites with support for host headers, Web Site Operators, per-Web site bandwidth throttling, and enhanced Web-based administration.
Crash Protection allows customers to run multiple applications reliably on the Web server. If one application crashes, the Web server and other applications will continue to run, and the failed application restarts upon the next request.
? IIS 4.0 provides the highest levels of integration with Windows NT Server. By integrating the Web server with the base operating system, Windows NT Server and IIS 4.0 provide organizations with an integrated platform for managing their network, Web and applications.?4
Certificate Server 1.0. Certificate Server is a general-purpose, highly customizable server application for managing the issuance, revocation, and renewal of digital certificates. Digital certificates are used for public-key cryptography applications, such as server and client authentication under the Secure Sockets layer (SSL) or Private Communication Technology (PCT) protocols. With Certificate Server, organizations can perform authentications on a corporate intranet or across the Internet.
IIS 4.0 includes an integrated certificate server that is tightly integrated with the Windows NT Server security model allowing organizations to issue and manage Internet standard X.509 digital certificates. This release also offers security enhancements for international banks. Using Server Gated Crypto technology, international banks are able to offer the strongest (128-bit) encryption for its online transactions.
Future of Windows NT
Much has changed since the 1996 launch of Windows NT Server 4.0. Customer requirements for a server operating system have evolved to include support for applications, Web services, communications, and much more. As most organizations have sought to keep computer system costs down, they have demanded more versatility from their server operating systems. One multipurpose server can often replace several disparate, single-purpose servers–an efficiency that helps simplify and consolidate the computing environment. Further, the server operating system has taken an increasingly critical role in conducting everyday business, and networks and computing systems have grown more complex. Security issues have become more important: As organizations have more of their business wrapped up in the network, they have more to protect.
Windows NT has been consistently improved, enhanced, and updated to meet those requirements. Windows NT has become the most comprehensive server operating system, combining best of class application services, file and print services, communications services and Web services. Yet at the core is a stable code base that has proven to be a strong and versatile performer for organizations of all sizes, earning broad industry support in the form of products and services built around Windows NT
Microsoft has made several comprehensive improvements to Windows NT, with the addition of an Option Pack, Service Pack 6 and two specialized versions –Windows NT Server 4.0, Enterprise Edition and Windows NT Server 4.0, Terminal Server Edition.
Windows NT Option Pack contains Microsoft Transaction Server (MTS), Microsoft Message Queue Server (MSMQ), Internet Connection Services for Remote Access Service (RAS), and improved Internet Information Server (IIS) technologies.
? Service Pack 4 contains updates for Windows NT Server 4.0 for Year-2000 compliance and Euro currency, new management and security features, as well as improvements to the reliability and usability of the product.?5
It also provides Windows NT with font support for the Euro, the proposed single currency of the European Union. This support enables users to input and display the Euro symbol in applications that are Euro symbol-enabled. Service Pack 4 includes the new Euro currency symbol in core fonts.
The rich features of Windows NT Server make it an ideal network operating system. It is the ideal platform for enterprise computing, providing a unified, high-performance environment for the Web, for building applications, and for communications and collaboration.
Minasi, Mark. Windows NT Server 3.51. Network Press. CA, 1996
Kadnier, Griffith. Windows NT 4, The complete reference. McGraw Hill, CA. 1997
Braginski and Powell, Running Microsoft Internet Information Server, Microsoft Press, Wa.1998
ZDNet, http://xlink.zdnet.com/cgi-bin/texis/xlink/xlink/search.html, 1999
Microsoft Developers Network, http://msdn.microsoft.com/, 1999
NT Insider ? http://www.ntinsider.com/, 1999
Computers and Internet