Longhorn not likely before 2006

Longhorn, the next generation of Microsoft’s Windows OS, isn’t likely to ship for another two years at least, Microsoft boss Bill Gates told a Middle East audience last month.

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By  Peter Branton Published  February 12, 2004

Longhorn, the next generation of Microsoft’s Windows OS, isn’t likely to ship for another two years at least, Microsoft boss Bill Gates told a Middle East audience last month. Speaking at the Microsoft Middle East Developers Conference in Cairo on January 24, Gates, Microsoft’s chairman and chief software architect, said Longhorn’s release date was still some time away. It “will be a few years from now, we’re not exactly sure when, because we’re still inventing it,” he told an audience of software developers from around the region. Later he said it would be “two years or more” before the product was released. Whenever it does ship, Longhorn will be one of Microsoft’s most important product launches ever, Gates said, at least as important as Windows 95. “The power of Longhorn will make a lot of different kinds of experiences easier on the computer,” he said, citing the ability to integrate voice and data better as an example. “People talk about it as Voice over IP and that’s part of it but its not just about bringing the price down,” he said. While Microsoft executives at the event were quick to stress that no launch date has been set for Longhorn, they admitted that 2006 was a likely release date. “Its fairly consistent with what everybody has been saying,” said Nasser Khan Ghazi, DPE director for Microsoft Middle East and Africa. Ghazi also stressed that product details for Longhorn can’t be pinned down because the company is keen to get as much feedback as possible before the product finally does ship. “All the things that you are hearing today about Longhorn are subject to change,” he told developers. “We expect feedback from sessions such as these to go back to the product groups.” Longhorn has been on the horizon for Microsoft for some time now. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer last year described it as the company’s “big bet…even bigger perhaps than the first generation Windows release,” in a memo to all company employees. In the same memo he said “we will do the work and take the time required to get it right.” By avoiding setting a deadline date for Longhon, Microsoft hopes to avoid the pressure it faced to release previous Windows versions, most obviously Windows 95 and 98 where it tied the release date into the product name. “Windows 95 and 98 we all know had a lot of problems in terms of stability and so on,” said Ghazi. He denied that Microsoft had done a “rush job” on releasing them, but admitted that the company had faced “tremendous pressure” to ship them on time. “I think we’ve always been under pressure from the market and the channel,” he said. “If we had the chance then yes we’d focus on reliability more.”

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