Windows Vista, Server and IE 7 Betas to Arrive in Synch

Microsoft confirmed to that it will deliver the beta 1 version of Longhorn Server on August 3, along with the beta 1 release Internet Explorer 7. They’ll be available along with the beta 1 version of Windows Vista, the next-generation Windows client formerly known as Longhorn, which Microsoft announced Friday morning.

The server beta, with a still-to-be-determined moniker, will contain the core operating system foundation and APIs for Longhorn Server. The private beta will be offered to hardware manufacturers, OEMs, IHVs, system builders, ISVs and developers. The build will let them test and plan their own products to work on top of the next-generation server, a Microsoft spokeswoman said.

Features of the new server product will include centralized and filtered event logging, image-based setup and deployment, a transactional file system and registry and built-in rights management.

While the desktop and server products are being developed together with the same code base, Microsoft plans the final release of Longhorn Server for six to 12 months after the release of Windows Vista. Microsoft is working to release Vista in time to install it on PCs to be sold during the holiday gift season in 2006, and it hopes to deliver the server product in 2007.

Microsoft group product manager Greg Sullivan told that, while the company will deliver the WinFS file system separately, “I think people will be surprised that a lot of what we showed in the WinFS demo is in Windows Vista.”

In April, Microsoft demonstrated an early version of Windows Vista, showing off virtual folders that dynamically gather files from anywhere on the hard drive that match keywords or other criteria. That functionality originally depended on WinFS, the new storage model. Virtual folders were basically the results of queries to an underlying data store, Sullivan said.

“The development team looked at the scenarios for managing stuff on the PC, and found a way to that without this underlying store,” he said. The beta 1 release will include the virtual folders that track hierarchical data queries. “We realized we can do it in the shell,” Sullivan said. Later, when WinFS is ready, he said, any application will be able to write to the APIs.

Sullivan also gave more details on integration of RSS into Windows Vista. “This will be a dramatic evolution of the user model,” he said. “Increasingly, RSS as a delivery vehicle will be more and more important.”

Windows Vista will handle the “plumbing” for RSS, he said, so that application developers and ISVs will be able to add RSS into the software they build on top of Windows without having to worry about connecting to the operating system. Sullivan said this was analogous to the way Windows offers printer drivers, so that a variety of printers can be attached to the same computer.

Jupiter Research analyst Joe Wilcox said the Windows Vista beta would contain the guts of the operating system, designed for developers and IT professionals. “They can make sure it will fit inside their environment and build stuff on it.” But he expects this beta to be more widely available than some of Microsoft’s early builds. Jupiter Research is owned by the same corporation as

“For Windows XP, the early betas were very select,” Wilcox said. “With this one, it would not shock me if Microsoft made it available to Microsoft Developers Network subscribers.”

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