Microsoft Corp. switched gears again Tuesday and said it has synchronized the development of the Longhorn server and the Longhorn client.
"That may not have been our plan last year, but that is our plan today," said Jim Allchin, group vice president for the platforms group at Microsoft. "We are building them in synch."
Allchin, who made his comments during the opening keynote of Microsoft's 13th annual WinHEC conference, did not say if the in-synch development would result in the products being shipped at the same time.
In March, Microsoft said the client and the server would not be released together but did not say how far apart the ship dates would be.
Microsoft has been coy about ship dates for the Longhorn client, but generally the software is expected to be available sometime in 2006 at the earliest. The first beta of the Longhorn client is due in 2005, according to Allchin. Synching the two releases would allow Microsoft to match client and server features such as Indigo, a sort of service bus middleware.
Microsoft worked hard to synch the delivery of Windows 2000 client and server back in February 2000 and said then that synchronizing the release of the Windows clients and servers would be the standard going forward. That fell apart with the "Whistler" release, which split into Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.
Allchin laid out a Windows roadmap for this year and next. He said the 64-bit edition of Windows Server 2003 and the Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 would come out together later this year.
He also said the server roadmap would include a Windows Server 2003 update in 2005 in which the concept of isolation will be the main theme. Allchin compared the technology to the personal firewall that is the highlight of the oft-delayed Windows XP Service Pack 2, now expected in July.
"It's the same general thing for the server," said Allchin. As an example he said a laptop connected to a network would be put in isolation until it passes through a series of IT configurable tests on such factors as its level of software updates.
Microsoft said a new version of Windows Storage Server, code-named Storm, would ship in 2005.
Microsoft also said it will hand out an updated version of its Longhorn preview code on Friday. The first pre-alpha code was handed out in October at the company's Professional Developers Conference.
"This refresh build is about Longhorn drivers and will present the new driver model," said Greg Sullivan, lead product manager for the Windows client team. Sullivan said the bits would not represent an update of the October release. He said developers would notice that some features that were in the October release are not in the release slated for Friday.
"The October release focused on new subsystems and APIs, and this is about drivers - it appeals to a different crowd," said Sullivan.
Allchin cautioned that the Longhorn code was still in its early stages and that performance would leave something to be desired.
Allchin also introduced a Devices Profile for Web Services that Microsoft co-authored with Intel, Lexmark, and Ricoh, which provides guidance on how devices can support Web services.
Microsoft and its partners hope to propose the Devices Profile to the UPnP Forum for consideration as the foundation for UPnP 2.0 Device Architecture.
Microsoft introduced the Network Connected Device Driver Development Kit, which when coupled with the Devices Profile will create an environment where network connected devices can be automatically discovered and installed using the Windows Plug and Play subsystem.
Allchin opened the three-hour keynote focusing on "experiences" saying that innovation in computing was beyond speeds and feeds, but about sights and sounds. His keynote then took a very consumer focus.
"The super-popular devices today are evoking emotion," he said.
In order to feed that emotion, Allchin and Microsoft Chief Software Architect Bill Gates, who closed the keynote session, focused on the importance of 64-bit architecture and their belief it will go mainstream.
Gates called the 64-bit architecture a headline for the conference and implored driver developers to get on board and do their part to accelerate adoption.
"The 64-bit server will be common sense in a couple of years," said Gates. "Sixty-four-bit computing is a very big deal."
The WinHEC conference runs through Friday.