What’s Next After Windows XP?
(The OS Formerly Known as Longhorn)
Select Articles on Windows 6.0
Version 3.23 — July 28, 2005
Hold mouse here for list of most recent changes.
At present, and for some time to come, there is little I can say about the Longhorn project (for reasons which are to OEB as IBM is to HAL). However, some journalists have been given legitimate and intentional leaks (called “previews”) by Microsoft, and Microsoft has started publishing its own articles on the subject. I’ll keep a sampling of these here (in addition to a few other legitimate news articles on the subject) for your perusal.
Release Notes for Microsoft Windows Code Named "Longhorn" Preview Release
Those who love to ski in the British Columbia area will have no trouble recognizing the names “Whistler” and “Blackcomb.” Two popular and adjacent mountains a couple of hours outside of Vancouver, the mountains provide both summer and winter recreation, including a summer jazz and blues festival. Want to know more? See here.
For most computer folks, though, “Whistler” first stands out in memory as the prerelease code name of Microsoft’s current leading edge desktop operating system, Windows XP; and, just one mountaintop beyond, “Blackcomb” is the code name for Microsoft’s next planned server release.
But what lies before us on the road from here to there, from Whistler to Blackcomb? Well, in British Columbia, as one comes down off the high of Whistler along the road to Blackcomb, the primary thing that will likely catch your attention, at the base of the village gondolas, is a popular stop-over and nightlife bar called the Longhorn.
Go south to Redmond, Washington and Longhorn is also the biggest thing you’re going to encounter on the road from Whistler to Blackcomb. The press is starting to heat up about it, especially since Microsoft’s formal unveiling of a pre-Alpha version of Longhorn at the October 2003 Professional Developers Conference. By all credible news accounts, we’re two to three years from the release of Longhorn, so nobody knows what the final will look like. It’s just too early. Even once a formal Beta process begins, the product is still subject to considerable change, and we haven’t even gotten close to watching it behave with a wide range of existing hardware and software. That all comes later in the development process. But, that having been said, I also want to add that I am more excited by what I have seen in Longhorn than I have ever been for any Microsoft operating system ever to come down the pike. Ever. I don’t just mean bells and whistles and new Sunday clothes. No, I mean things like raw end-user functionality and flexibility, and the adoption of industry-wide standards that are going to blow wide open the capabilities and interaction of software over the next few years.
How different is Longhorn from, say, Windows XP? “Longhorn is as different from current versions of Windows as Windows 95 was from Windows 3.1,” Microsoft’s Chris Sells wrote recently, “and offers as much opportunity for users and developers.” While we are still quite a ways from seeing the final result, what I have seen so far convinces me that Chris isn’t exaggering. Windows XP is the apex of Windows as it has been known thus far, and Longhorn may well be the first truly 21st Century operating system. (Science fiction fans, get ready!)
NOTE: Toby Whitney of Microsoft’s WinFS team wrote the following, which clarifies many misconceptions about WinFS: “NTFS covers the surface area of the disk and at one point in the namespace on the disk WinFS is built on top of WinFS. In the PDC builds, that namespace is \\localhost\defaultstore. WinFS doesn’t cover all of the NTFS-formatted disk. In LH [Longhorn] the default store that comes with the standard LH install will map to c:\documents and settings. The user (or apps on behalf of a user) will be able to create additional WinFS stores. In LH if a user creates a folder outside of a WinFS store and puts files in them, those files won’t get the benefits of WinFS.” (2003 Nov 7)
NOTE: As “next generation .NET,” Indigo will be made available for earlier versions of Windows. My best current public information is that sometime after the release of Whidbey (next year’s version of Visual Studio) and well in advance of Longhorn’s release, an Indigo version will be shipped for Windows 2000/XP. I suspect we will see Indigo to appear for other platforms as well.
Microsoft has opened several Longhorn-related newsgroups, in the microsoft.public hierarchy, for the discussion of Longhorn. Understandably, these are all aimed at developers right now. Here are direct links that will launch these newsgroups in your default newsreader.
Thanks primarily to the developer public newsgroups, small bits and pieces of information are emerging that may be of interest to the typical end-user. I am going to start recording these in this Tidbits section. I have no idea where this will go or what it will evolve into, but for now it will be a list of Longhorn trivia. Because this information may change significantly with successive builds of Longhorn, I will date each entry.