Q&A: Allchin Talks Turkey About Longhorn - InformationWeek

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Q&A: Allchin Talks Turkey About Longhorn

Jim Allchin, who spearheads Microsoft's Longhorn push, gives some long-awaited details on the next-generation version of Windows.

Jim Allchin, group vice president of platforms at Microsoft, spearheads the software giant's much-ballyhooed -- and delayed -- push for Longhorn, the code name for the next generation of Windows. Allchin sat down this week in Boston with CRN Industry Editor Barbara Darrow and Senior Writer Paula Rooney to talk about Longhorn plans. Allchin and Neil Charney, director of the Platform Strategy and Partner Group, also demonstrated Longhorn's upcoming "Visualize and Organize" search capability.

Allchin said to expect another preview of Longhorn code at WinHEC later this month, a beta release of both client and server this summer, with a developer beta to follow in the fall. The long-awaited client operating system is due by the holiday season and the server in 2007.

CRN: Microsoft plans to release a beta of Longhorn this summer. Will you make first half or second half of 2005?

ALLCHIN: It'll be early summer. We're on track for the first half as I sit here today.

CRN: How will you try to integrate laptops and desktops with SmartPhones?

ALLCHIN: We'll have a sync manager in Longhorn to simplify that sync process for phones and other machines. It's [not ActiveSync 4] but a new version of synchronization, a brand new system being done for Longhorn and will have a whole set of wireless support so it can run more seamlessly between work and home and understands the environment.

CRN: Should developers be using APIs in the next Longhorn build [due at WinHEC 2005] or the formal developers' edition preview to be distributed at PDC 2005?

ALLCHIN: At WinHEC we'll give a build out of Longhorn, help developers through the transition of writing graphics drivers. You can call it a preview, it's not a beta. But it's dramatically different from the first preview. Nothing we have today has our new user interface on it. But we have some things to show you. There are a large number of people trying to get a jump using new technology already; we've been giving them that. After PDC 2005, we'll have a beta and we'll decide the [shipping] date. We're still on track for shipping by holiday 2006, so we'll be done before then.

CRN: When we talked to partners at PDC 2003, where you showed off all this Longhorn stuff, there was a lot of excitement. But now that everything has slip-slided, even die-hard Microsoft partners seem disappointed with all the delays and incremental releases. What's your message to them?

ALLCHIN: That's what I'm trying to tell you. It isn't. It's not incremental. The world, in my opinion, thinks this is perhaps the next version of a Service Pack. I think the world generally thinks that. It's not. It's a very big deal.

CRN: [Regarding the demo of Longhorn's Visual Folders search and visualize feature.] Is it based on WinFS? MSN Search?

ALLCHIN: No. It's much more about indexing. It's a much richer view capability built into Longhorn. Visualize and organize goes back to Cairo [an old Windows NT project]. The indexing technology that's in XP and in Windows 2000 is a follow-on of Cairo technology. We have continued working on that technology and it's used by MSN search but it's been in the operating system for awhile. [With Longhorn] it is dramatically improved.

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