by December 5, 2009 0 comments

Gone are the days when Indian centers of global IT companies were involved in
just providing support functions to the main development outfit based out of the
USA or Europe. Now the Indian centers are actively involved in research and
product development. The Indian development centers of Intel and Microsoft stand
testimony to that. The recent launch of Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system
too had significant contributions coming from Microsoft India Development Center
(MSIDC) in Hyderabad.

MSIDC and Windows 7
Microsoft India Development Center situated in Hyderabad is one of the
largest Microsoft R&D centers outside their headquarters in Redmond, USA. This
center started 11 years ago with a team of just 20 people, and over these years
has grown to become a team of around 1500 employees. MSIDC has played a key role
in contributing towards components of several Microsoft products, some of which
include Bing, developer tools and Windows 7.

Over the years, the MSIDC development teams have gained expertise on
networking and virtualization, and that reflects on the type of components of
Windows 7, they had complete engineering responsibility of. The contributions of
MSIDC teams to Windows 7 are discussed here.

VPN Reconnect
In this mobile world, one of the pain points that most organizations face is
providing seamless connectivity to their workforce for corporate applications.
Most organizations provided such applications by using VPN tunnels over
Internet. But if their employees moved out of the office network, their
connection to the application would be inaccessible as their VPN connection got
terminated, and even if the employee had a wireless broadband connection, he
would have to reconnect and get back onto that application to continue working.

Windows 7 provides a VPN Reconnect feature, which allows a VPN connection to
have multiple network paths defined between points on the VPN tunnel. This
results in seamless switchover and uninterrupted connectivity, as VPN Reconnect
feature automatically uses the next available path to maintain the existing VPN
tunnel if the main network connection fails, and so the user’s work remain
uninterrupted with no connectivity outages.

This VPN Reconnect feature has been developed at MSIDC. It is standards based
and uses the IKEv2 IPSec protocol. It supports additional VPN strategy which
allows fallback to SSL in case IKEv2 is blocked by the firewall. It also
provides support for Machine Certificate based authentication making it more
secure to use.

Direct Access
For corporate users who would like to access their corporate intranet while
on move over the Internet without having to configure any VPN connection, Direct
Access feature of Windows 7 is the solution. Direct Access provides the end user
access to the corporate network so they can have access to the resources they
need even while they are on the move. It also enables the IT administrator to
have increased level of remote device management. Direct Access uses the IPv6
and its native features to tunnel and secure data over public network like

Microsoft’s India Development Center in Hyderabad

The MSIDC team has been instrumental in setting up the Direct Access
Management snap-in feature in Windows 7, and provided all the management
framework around setting up the Direct Access server and the policies around it.
Thus, playing a key part in providing an end-to-end solution for Windows 7.

Mobile Broadband
The third networking related component that MSIDC has contributed to Windows
7 is the Mobile Broadband feature. This feature enables users to connect to the
Internet from any location that has cellular connectivity.  Prior to Windows 7,
all telcos were writing their own connection managers, even the mobile broadband
card manufacturers were writing the device drivers in their proprietary format.
This resulted in an inconsistent user experience as he subscribed from one
service provider to another. The MSIDC team worked with various card
manufacturers and telcos across the geography and provided them with a common
API set for connection manager and driver model so that user can have a
consistent experience.

With organizations moving towards mobile workforce, and even netbooks coming
with an embedded wireless broadband card, the user now just has to take
subscription from a wireless service provider and he is all set to work on the
Mobile Broadband feature of Windows 7, taking care of the connection manager as
well as device drivers. Customers can connect via 2.5G, 3G, GSM or CDMA based
cellular data services and enjoy the same experience as that available to users
of Wi-Fi and other broadband technologies. The spectrum of technologies that
this feature supports include GSM as well as CDMA.

Virtualization Contribution
Apart from the networking related responsibilities for Windows 7, the MSIDC
also contributed towards virtualization technologies like Virtual PC and Windows
XP Mode for Windows 7. Microsoft has learned from their Vista experience that
several enterprises had not adopted Vista because of the application
compatibility issue. With Windows 7 though, Microsoft has tried to resolve
application compatibility issues. And for any enterprise application which runs
on Windows XP, but is not compatible with Windows 7, they have provide a Windows
XP Mode.

This is effectively a license to run XP with Windows 7 Professional,
Enterprise or Ultimate editions and allows enterprises to upgrade to Windows 7
and have their Windows XP compatible business and productivity applications
working inside Windows 7 in a virtual environment. The experience of running
native XP compatible applications on Windows 7 is seamless and also once the
applications are installed on XP Mode, they are published in Start Programs and
on the Desktop of Windows 7, providing user with ease of access and enhancing
his experience. Also the application in XP Mode starts normally and there is no
Virtual Machine environment visible to the user.

Beyond Windows 7
Providing key components for Microsoft Windows 7 is not the only
accomplishment for MSIDC. It is also contributing towards Microsoft’s family of
developer tools and technologies. The upcoming Visual Studio 2010 will have
features of Test Elements and Team Lab management, which were developed
primarily at MSIDC. SQL Server Compact 3.5 SP2 Beta 2, developed at MSIDC, is
the latest release from the SQL Server Compact family. It is a free, easy-to-use
embedded database engine that lets developers build robust Windows Desktop and
mobile applications that run on all Windows platforms, including Windows 7,
Pocket PC and Smartphone.

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