Gates Launches x64, Shows Off Longhorn

The big WinHEC show in Seattle is dominating the Microsoft news ticker this week. WinHEC, which stands for Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, is where Microsoft lays out its roadmaps for the hardware development community, in the process giving the rest of us insight into features and functions of forthcoming products. This week, most of the buzz is about 64-bit computing in general and Longhorn specifically.

From the show, Redmond magazine news editor Scott Bekker reports on the Bill Gates keynote that kicked off the event on Monday. Gates used his talk to announce general availability of four x64 editions of Windows: Windows XP x64 Professional Edition, Windows Server 2003 x64 Standard Edition, Windows Server 2003 x64 Enterprise Edition and Windows Server 2003 x64 Datacenter Edition. Gates also previewed the new graphical user interface coming in Longhorn, complete with translucent windows and 3D views of files, all intended to improve usability. Also on tap are new file icons that give a glimpse into what’s inside, along with new folder technology meant to make it easier to organize files.

More Coming From WinHEC
Keep an eye on Redmondmag.com throughout the week, as we’ll be posting additional stories from WinHEC. Among the coverage you can expect:

  • Metro: A new Microsoft document format that sounds suspiciously like Adobe’s PDF
  • Longhorn-Ready PC Program: A branding campaign intended to make clear to customers whether a PC they buy today will be able to run Longhorn when the time comes.
  • Windows Media Center: Gates is proud that Microsoft has sold 1 million Media Center Edition units since October 2004 and 2 million over three years.
  • Ultra-mobile PC: Bill's latest favorite gadget is a combo phone, music player and PC, with a 7-inch screen. It seems slick, but something tells me folks will find it too big to replace a cell phone or music player, and too small to replace a laptop. Of course my laptop bag typically outweighs my luggage, so maybe I’m just a tad behind the times.

Gates Keynote Highlights
At Microsoft.com, you’ll find a transcript and video of Gates’ WinHEC keynote, which offers some interesting tidbits—if you can slog through it. At 1 hour, 43 minutes, it was one long keynote. I offer here a few choice tidbits:

PC sales are expected to be up 10 percent for 2005, which translates to 20 million more units than in 2004. From 1981 to 2002, 1 billion PCs were sold. Another 1 billion will be sold by 2008, Gates said. “And when you get up to 2 billion, that's compared to 6 billion people on the planet, 2 billion is starting to get somewhere. Remember the original Microsoft vision of a computer on every desk and in every home. Well, we're starting to make that a very real thing.”

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For reliability, Longhorn will include an enhanced version of the Watson technology, which is the crash data that comes back to Microsoft from Windows XP—if you let it. “We've taken that to a whole new level, because we have a much better ability to record what's been going on in the system. Think of it as a flight data recorder, so that any time there's a problem, that black box is there helping us work together and diagnose what's going on.” Gates said the technology will allow Microsoft to fix such problems far faster than it can currently.

Performance should also be greatly improved with Longhorn. “It means really smart caching, so we're going out to the disk a lot less. In fact, we'll have a number of benchmarks that will stun people in terms of starting applications up, using memory in a better way,” Gates said.

And it sounds like we’ll soon be hearing about Longhorn pretty much all the time: “We're going to put more marketing behind Longhorn than we have behind anything we've had in the past, and we're seeing with a number of partners a great opportunity to do more coordination on that than we've done in the past,” Gates said.

Microsoft, SAP in Office Deal
Outside the walls of WinHEC, Microsoft on Tuesday announced an agreement with SAP to jointly develop a product that links SAP’s enterprise resource planning tools with Microsoft Office applications. The jointly developed product, code-named “Mendocino,” will allow users to search, access and synchronize with SAP from Office applications, and integrate processes such as time management, budget monitoring, travel and expense monitoring into Office. Users could synchronize an Excel spreadsheet, for example, with SAP.

Although it’s not due out till late this year, Mendocino is a good example of the type of collaboration technology that Microsoft has been touting with Office for some time now. Redmond magazine is searching for folks who are using the collaboration capabilities that already exist in Office to do more than write documents in Word and track accounts in Excel. If your company is ahead on the collaboration curve, drop me a note at pdesmond@redmondmag.com or use our online form. Perhaps you’ll see your story in the pages of our magazine.

About the Author

Paul Desmond, the founding editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine, is president of the IT publishing firm PDEdit in Southborough, Mass. Reach him at paul@pdedit.com.

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