Longhorn changes OK, say NZ Microsoft users

New technologies will now also be released for Windows XP

Microsoft's recent announcement that several features initially marked as part of its upcoming Longhorn operating system will now be released separately has gone down well with New Zealand Microsoft specialists spoken to by Computerworld.

At the end of last month Microsoft announced that WinFS, a much-anticipated storage feature slated for release as part of Longhorn, would be released after the operating system, which is set to go on sale in 2006.

The company also said that Avalon, a graphics system and Indigo, a communications technology set for building web services, wouldn't be part of Longhorn either. Both Avalon and Indigo will become available sooner and be integrated into Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.

Derek Watson, development manager at Intergen, says the news that Indigo and Avalon are to be released earlier and separately from Longhorn is great.

"It's fantastic — we've been waiting for Indigo especially and Avalon and that they're coming earlier and will be available in existing operating systems is a big plus."

He says it's "a bit of a shame" WinFS won't be released as part of Longhorn, "but the other two [Avalon and Indigo] balance it out."

Indigo will allow Intergen, a Microsoft development house, to do new things for its clients, Watson says.

"We're very excited about the opportunities it will provide for our customers, as it makes the delivery of apps built on a services-oriented architecture easier.

"It takes care of transactionality and security."

Avalon is also "very interesting and will change the face of Windows apps as opposed to web apps."

Windows apps are "coming back into play," he says, and Avalon will allow the delivery of "a very rich user experience".

Datacom software architect Greg Davidson says the changes to Longhorn are a sensible move by Microsoft.

"They've changed things around so that a number of releases of new functionality don't depend on each other."

The result, he says, is that "if one of the things they're working on is delayed, the others aren't affected.

"When you have a very complicated software delivery, decreasing the dependency between [the different parts] is the smart thing to do."

Longhorn's scheduled release "is far enough out that the changes won't inconvenience anyone," he says.

When the announcement on WinFS, Indigo and Avalon was made, Microsoft platforms group vice president Jim Allchin said in a statement "we've had to make some trade-offs to deliver the features corporate customers, consumers and OEMs are asking for in a reasonable timeframe."

WinFS will use a relational engine to allow users to easily access files, documents and emails and is based on technology from Microsoft's upcoming SQL Server 2005 database, also known as Yukon.

Rob Helm, research director of firm Directions on Microsoft, told Computerworld US that the removal of WinFS, Avalon and Indigo from Longhorn means the name Longhorn "is going to mean something completely different now.

"It's just going to be the next Windows release," rather than a revolutionary version of Windows, Helm says.

The first beta of Longhorn's desktop version is scheduled for next year, with a server version planned for 2007.

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