The Future Of Windows

A sneak peek at Vista, Blackcomb, and beyond.
Windows Blackcomb
Not many concrete details about the next next-generation version of Windows have been made public. Code-named Windows Blackcomb, this OS will replace Windows Vista.

Blackcomb (also named after that Canadian ski resort) was originally scheduled to be the successor to Windows XP, but the company decided to release Windows Vista in the interim while they focus on more ambitious changes for Blackcomb.

According to Internet rumors, Microsoft sources have indicated that Blackcomb's goal will be nothing short of a radical rethinking of the way users interact with their PCs. This will probably entail a complete replacement of the Start menu and Taskbar, as well as the entire Explorer shell.

Blackcomb should feature two technologies originally planned for Vista but removed because of time constraints: the WinFS file storage system, and a new command-line scripting language known as the Microsoft Command Shell (code name Monad). Not surprisingly, the OS will also include bolstered security features.

The current release date for Blackcomb is thought to be somewhere around 2011 or 2012, but Microsoft isn't saying for sure.

Windows Live

Windows Live Beta
Just a few weeks before Windows' 20th anniversary date, Microsoft announced a new online iteration of Windows aimed at transcending the notion of the localized PC and PC hard drive. Windows Live is an advertising-supported service that allows users access to popular Windows OS features and applications from any computer via the Internet. The company says the online version of the OS is not intended to replace the complete desktop OS.

Clearly a competitive response to Google's success, the new online strategy was quickly denounced by some Microsoft rivals as too little, too late. Judge for yourself: A beta version of Windows Live with limited features and functions is available at

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Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing