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Microsoft Windows 'Longhorn' Version Due In 2005

The vendor is seeking to get developers behind the upgrade and says it doesn't plan an interim release before the product launch
Microsoft is gearing up for the next major release of Windows, code-named Longhorn, and doesn't plan an interim release before that product launch, which is slated for 2005, said Will Poole, senior VP of Microsoft's Windows Client Division.

Speaking to several hundred developers Wednesday at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) in New Orleans, Poole urged them to get behind Longhorn. "The weight of the company and the weight of all the people in the Windows Client Division and across the Platforms Division is around Longhorn," he said. "We'd love to get you all pulling the same way so we can come out with a huge wave of excitement for the industry when Longhorn ships in 2005."

Microsoft is betting the company on Longhorn, Poole said, adding that the product will "change the landscape" in terms of how businesses and consumers use PCs. Still, the road to Longhorn is "not super short," he noted. "We've got some work to do."

Microsoft conducted a Longhorn developer preview in March. The next Longhorn development milestone will be in October at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference, where the company expects to provide new details on Longhorn, Poole said. Microsoft plans several beta releases of Longhorn in 2004, he said.

Some developers here said they're skeptical that Microsoft will be able to meet the 2005 timetable. One software engineer for a California company, who requested anonymity, said that if Microsoft is predicting a 2005 release, it's likely that the product launch could be as far off as 2007. There is "a high probability" that the 2005 date will slip based on Microsoft's past software development track record, he said. Other developers at the meeting said that porting to Longhorn could be a challenge, in part because of the operating system's 3-D capabilities.

Before Longhorn, Microsoft will have updates to Tablet PC and XP Media Center, Poole said. Also at WinHEC, Microsoft detailed a Windows Server 2003 update road map--slated to include an iSCSI initiator, a key piece of the vendor's storage virtualization effort. The iSCSI initiator is due out in June. The company also unveiled NAS 3.0, a storage services product due out in the second quarter; Small Business Server, slated for release in the third quarter; Automated Deployment Services, part of its Dynamic Systems initiative for server provisioning, due out in the third quarter; Virtual Server, a technology for migrating applications to Windows Server 2003, expected to be launched in the fourth quarter; and support of Advanced Micro Devices' 64-bit processor in Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, due out at year's end.

David Thompson, corporate VP of the Windows Server Product Group at Microsoft, said the company's goal is to provide continued innovation through software updates. "Innovation does not have to wait for major releases," Thompson said. He noted that Microsoft is spending $250 million to help drive Windows Server 2003 into the market.

This article appears courtesy of CRN, the newspaper for builders of technology solutions.