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Microsoft: Longhorn Coming in 2006

Microsoft is publicly aiming for 2006 again for the availability of the next client version of Windows, code-named "Longhorn," the company said Friday. The accelerated delivery schedule comes at a cost -- a highly touted new storage subsystem for Longhorn called WinFS is now planned for delivery sometime after Longhorn ships.

"Getting Longhorn to customers in 2006 will provide important advances in performance, security and reliability, and will help accelerate the creation of exciting new applications by developers across the industry," said Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect, in the Microsoft statement. Gates is well known to be taking an intense personal interest in the Longhorn project in his role as chief software architect.

Industry consensus generally held that Microsoft's ambitious new client operating system wouldn’t reach the market until 2007 with the server version coming out a year later. In addition to committing to 2006, Microsoft also said that "anticipated availability" for the server version "continues to be 2007."

Although WinFS is out, Microsoft does plan to include two other pillars it has previously discussed for the operating system. They are the new presentation layer "Avalon" and the new communication subsystem "Indigo." Microsoft refers to the technologies together as a new developer platform it calls WinFX. The company announced Friday that it also has plans to make WinFX available for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.

Gates has not given up on his long-time goal of a common storage infrastructure underlying all of Microsoft's products from databases to operating systems to e-mail servers. Microsoft current plan calls for WinFS to enter beta testing when the Longhorn client ships.

Jim Allchin, group vice president of the Microsoft Platforms Group, explained Microsoft's reasoning in dropping WinFS for now. "We've had to make some trade-offs to deliver the features corporate customers, consumers and OEMs are asking for in a reasonable amount of time," Allchin said in a statement. He said customers place a higher value on improved productivity, easier deployment, increased reliability and enhanced security.

No mention was made during the Friday announcement of the controversial "Palladium" or Next-Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB) technology that Microsoft once said it was building into Longhorn.

The announcement came at a meeting Friday with several hundred of the company's developer evangelists from around the world. It follows the rollout this month of Windows XP Service Pack 2, a massive project that had been consuming most of Microsoft's client development resources over the last nine months.

About the Author

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

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