Longhorn Pushed to 2004, .NET Server to Debut 2003

While this week's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference has been host to exciting new product announcements and upcoming technologies, Microsoft executives delivered disappointing news to Windows enthusiasts. In his keynote address, group vice president Jim Allchin disclosed that Longhorn, the next major version of Windows originally scheduled for 2003, would not ship before 2004. Windows .NET Server will not meet its timeline either, due in part to delays Microsoft attributes to the massive security review that took place in February.

What was once slated to be a relatively minor update to Windows XP, Longhorn will instead represent quite a significant jump from its predecessor. Microsoft has been working hard to perfect a completely new file system based on Yukon, the next release of SQL Server. Longhorn will also sport next generation three dimensional graphics with DirectX 9, enabling the company to potentially deliver a completely new 3-D user interface.

"We want to make it a very significant release, and we are going to have a reasonable development cycle for this version," Allchin told eWeek in an interview Tuesday. "Often times we try to spin things too fast and spend all our time getting beta feedback and not enough innovation as I would have wanted."

Mike Toutonghi, vice president of the Windows eHome Division, stated that Longhorn will ship in the second half of 2004. "It will deliver the next generation of communications and collaboration experiences, streaming audio/video [A/V] functionality, integrated device connectivity, simplified networking, and tools to help Microsoft deliver on our promise of the connected home," he said.

Windows .NET, the server counterpart to Windows XP, has also been pushed back and will not hit store shelves until early 2003. Initially on a concurrent release track with Windows XP, Windows .NET was to ship at the end of 2001, but RTM was moved to early 2002 when Microsoft found itself far behind schedule. Release to manufacturing is now set for the end of this year with the first release candidate expected this summer.

In the meantime, Microsoft is working hard to complete the first service pack for Windows XP and recently sent beta invitations to top XP testers. SP 1 is scheduled for release later this year, along with Freestyle and the first Tablet PC devices. Allchin at WinHEC denied reports that Microsoft would issue a Windows XP refresh, dubbed Second Edition, before Longhorn.

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