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Longhorn Betas in 2004, GA in 2005

NEW ORLEANS -- The next client version of Windows, code-named "Longhorn," will appear in two beta versions during 2004 and come to market in 2005, a Microsoft official said Wednesday at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference.

Will Poole, senior vice president of Microsoft's Windows client division, also reasserted during his WinHEC keynote that Longhorn remains the next major client release.

"Longhorn is the big goal for us," Poole said. "Is there an interim release? That's currently something I don't expect us to do."

Due partly to the Software Assurance costs in Microsoft Licensing 6.0 contracts that fail to pay for themselves if customers don't have a new client OS after about three years, Microsoft faces constant speculation that it will address the gap with an interim release of Windows XP.

In the meantime there will be some minor releases -- Windows XP Tablet PC Edition Version 2 and Windows XP Media Center Edition Version 2 are slated for 2003 and 2004 ship dates.

Developers got a preview of Longhorn in March and will have more of the operating system to look at when the Microsoft Professional Developer Conference rolls around this October, Poole promised.

But Beta 1 and Beta 2 of Longhorn are currently scheduled for 2004, he said.

Poole didn't explicitly demo the current Longhorn builds during his presentation. Instead he showcased current and upcoming gaming scenarios and home entertainment demonstrations involving Windows Media Center.

He did say that the graphics capabilities that ship standard with PCs today are woefully underutilized by Windows, a situation that he promised would be changed in the Longhorn release.

On Tuesday, the Next Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB) had the spotlight. Chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates said then that the combined hardware and software security and privacy capabilities of NGSCB would be included in the Longhorn release.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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