At the company's annual Worldwide Partner Conference, one Microsoft executive said the company will provide the first beta of Longhorn aimed at IT professionals this summer, but the "cool new UI" with visualization, organization and search capabilities won't be included in the Longhorn code until beta 2, which is due next year.
"I'm very confident we're going to make next year," Sanjay Parthasarathy, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Developer & Platform Evangelism Group, said about making the fall 2006 ship date for Longhorn. "Keep your fingers crossed for us."
Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., has said it will ship the Longhorn client in 2006 and server in 2007.
In the interim, Microsoft is preparing to officially launch its next-generation SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 on Nov. 7, and Windows Server 2003 R2 and BizTalk Server 2006 by the end of the year.
At the partner conference, the Microsoft developer executive told partners that those product releases will afford them many new application development and customization possibilities.
He said the developer edition of the Longhorn beta will be available at the company's Professional Developer's Conference in September in Los Angeles.
Even as it preps those major launches, Microsoft at the show formally announced the name of a business intelligence product for Office and SQL Server 2005 due this fall, dubbed Microsoft Business Scorecard Manager, formerly code-named Maestro, and announced a realtime collaboration Presence Toolkit for Visual Studio 2005 that will deliver a new set of LiveMeeting controls inside Visual Studio 2005 for developers.