Longhorn Evangelist Debunks Professed 'Aero' Shots

Robert Scoble, technology evangelist for Longhorn at Microsoft, has called into question several purported screenshots of the next-generation Longhorn interface code-named "Aero."

The images originate from a presentation by Steve Ball, program manager for Microsoft's Windows Audio Video Devices Group, given at WinHEC 2003 last May. But Scoble says the three month-old shots appear to be early concepts, not Aero itself, which Microsoft keeps under strict lock and key.

"These look like early demonstration screens, and not how Longhorn will eventually look," Scoble wrote in his Web log. "The builds I'm using don't have the Aero interface, Microsoft really wants to make sure screen captures don't leak out."

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Because Longhorn is over two years away, Microsoft has remained tight lipped over what it has in store for the future of Windows. A company spokesperson could not comment on the WinHEC presentation, or whether the images actually portray work being done on Aero.

Leaked alpha builds of Longhorn -- the most recent appearing last April -- have provided the only glimpse into the minds of Redmond developers.

"In many ways, Longhorn screenshots are meaningless, because Microsoft hasn't locked down the user interface," Joe Wilcox, senior analyst for Jupiter Research, told BetaNews. "In fact, I expect considerable changes until the first Longhorn beta launches - and that isn't expected until sometime next year."

Wilcox expects that Longhorn won't reach the public in its final form until early 2006. "Microsoft will want a longer-than-usual development cycle to prepare partners and customers for the new file system and to line up new versions of Office and other Microsoft products," he said.

A first official taste of Longhorn will come in October when Microsoft unveils a developer preview at the company's Professional Developer Conference. But chances of any radical changes to Windows appearing so early in the development cycle are slim.

"The real "Aero" is one of Longhorn's biggest secrets -- I've seen it, but can't load it on my own machine and am locked out of the server where it's kept," says Microsoft's Scoble. "I am not even sure they'll show it off at the PDC."

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