Microsoft Downgrades Longhorn

To head off what some have described as a "perfect storm" Microsoft is paring down its next generation Windows release code-named Longhorn. Business Week is reporting that Microsoft will fall short of its aspirations to include the full scope of the Windows file-storage system (WinFS) in the operating system; instead, the software giant will focus on rolling out WinFS for the client - leaving network support to the dust.

The WinFS system along with the Indigo communications subsystem and Avalon graphical subsystem serve as the three technologies at the foundation of Longhorn.

According to Microsoft Watch, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates publicly acknowledged that the Longhorn client will be pushed back well into 2006.

To fill the void left by the absence of Longhorn, Microsoft was expected to release an interim release of XP rumored to be called Windows XP "Reloaded". However, according to emails allegedly viewed by Business Week, those plans have been shelved indefinitely.

Instead Microsoft will deliver Windows XP Premium: a conglomeration of Windows XP Service Pack Two and Windows Media Player 10.

Windows Media Player 10 is Microsoft's attempt to outflank Apple by offering the MSN Music Store, and is set to include new digital rights management technology dubbed "Janus". Windows XP Premium will not be billed as an 'interim' release.

With Windows Longhorn, Microsoft has promised big. This, however, is not the first time Redmond has attempted a proverbial 'moon shot'.

Senior Jupiter analyst Joe Wilcox told BetaNews, "Microsoft's situation is like it was 10 years ago. It's interesting to see history repeat. The company had promised big things with Cairo, but executives faced increasing pressure to ship a new version of Windows. Microsoft also worried new competing products, such as IBM's OS/2 Warp, would eat away Windows market share. Funny how the characters are changed, but not the situation."

Jupiter's Wilcox continued, "Ten years ago, Microsoft shed features to get out Windows 95, which wasn't as revolutionary as the version 3.1 successor was supposed to be. Shedding features could put Longhorn on a similar track."

Linux's growing momentum and the continual delay of Longhorn is brewing what some have called a perfect storm. "Many Longhorn promised features are like those proposed for Cairo, Microsoft faces some pressure to ship and Linux could be the OS/2 of the day," said Wilcox.

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