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Stripped-Down Longhorn Beta On Tap

Microsoft's first official beta of its next-generation Windows software, due this month, will lack many of the user features planned for the final code.
Microsoft's first official beta of its next-generation Windows software, due this month, will lack many of the user features planned for the final code.

In Longhorn, Windows will offer key user functions that include a newly revealed peer-to-peer collaborative feature called Meeting Space; support for the RSS protocol; Internet Explorer 7; Windows Workflow Services and a visualize, organize and search tool dubbed Virtual Folders.

At Microsofts recent Worldwide Partner Conference, however, Sanjay Parthasarathy, corporate vice president of Microsofts Developer and Platform Evangelism Group, said the cool new UI and other promised end-user features wont be included in the Longhorn code until beta 2, expected early 2006. The beta 1 is aimed at IT administrators and will include IT features such as user account protection services, simplified corporate image deployment, secure startup for protecting laptops and a Windows System Assessment Tool to analyze graphics, processor, memory and hard-drive performance.

Microsoft said it plans to deliver final product by the end of 2006. Im very confident were going to make next year, Parthasarathy said about Longhorns fall 2006 ship date. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

At the conference, Microsoft advised partners to use the WinFX programming model and Indigo Web services stack in the developers release, planned for September delivery at its Professional Developers Conference, for building apps and Web services.

Still, some wondered how to bridge the gap until the Longhorn release. Over the last three or four years, [our] business was fueled by targeting the aging installed base of [Windows] NT 4 and NetWare. Were concerned about a dropoff in that business before Longhorn, said Tom White, CEO of VLSystems, an integrator in Irvine, Calif.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer cited pre-Longhorn opportunities such as migrating IBM, SAP, Novell and Oracle products, as well as upgrading NT 4.0 users.

BARBARA DARROW contributed to this story.