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Microsoft pulls in horns on Longhorn

Microsoft is dropping some features out of Longhorn in order to guarantee getting the OS out the door by its scheduled date of 2006.

Microsoft is dropping some features out of Longhorn in order to guarantee getting the OS out the door by its scheduled date of 2006.

Longhorn is the successor to Windows XP and Microsoft has committed itself to releasing it in 2006. The company last week said it was still looking at availability in 2006, but that it will ship without the storage subsystem, code-named WinFS, which had been widely hyped as one of the key features of the release.

“We’ve had to make some trade-offs to deliver the features corporate customers, consumers and OEMs are asking for in a reasonable time-frame,” said Jim Allchin, group vice president of the Platforms Group at Microsoft. “Our long-term vision for the Windows platform remains the same.”

Described by Microsoft executives as combining the attributes of a database and a file system, WinFS was seen as a key feature for Longhorn by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates. “This is something that’s been on Bill’s radar for ever,” said Nasser Khan Ghazi, DPE director for Microsoft MEA, earlier this year. WinFS would make it easier for people to group files, and search for information within them. Microsoft said last week it will now be delivered after the Longhorn release, and will be in beta testing when Longhorn ships. However, Longhorn is still expected to contain improved search features.

There was some good news for developers, with Microsoft promising to make some of the other key features of Longhorn backward-compatible with Windows XP and Server 2003. The presentation sub-system, code-named Avalon, and the Indigo communications sub-system, will be made available for both platforms.

“This availability will expand the scope of opportunity for developers by enabling them to write applications that can run on hundreds of millions of PCs, resulting in enhanced experiences of users of these operating systems,” said Allchin.

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