Microsoft: Longhorn Is Now Windows Vista

Microsoft announced the go-to-market name for the next-generation version of its Windows operating system: Vista.

The company said it expects to release a test
of Windows Vista Beta 1, targeted at developers and IT professionals, by August 3rd. But expectations are that it could leak out sooner. In a video announcement broadcast online this morning, the company said Longhorn, the codename for the past couple of years for the beta, has been put out to pasture.

According to the company’s Website, Vista is expected to arrive in 2006, a time frame analysts and company-watchers have long questioned since key features in Longhorn have been delayed or nixed since it was first unveiled in 2003.

“December of 2006 sounds like a convenient way to not say 2007,” Gordon Haff, Illuminata analyst, recently told “If Microsoft already is pushing the date to the very end of next year, Haff said, “That says to me 2007 is a lot more realistic.”

The Vista name suggests that graphics and presentation are slated as major improvements to the operating system that runs more than 90 percent of the world’s computers. With a tagline that reads, “Bringing clarity to your world,” Microsoft’s Vista is designed to introduce “clear ways to organize and use information the way you want to use it.”

Indeed, the Avalon graphics subsystem, which enables users to easily organize, match and move around multimedia files such as video, audio and images, represents a major new look and feel to Windows, compared to the media management tools in XP. Avalon is part of the Visual Studio 2005 developer platform, code-named Whidbey, which is also getting a look-see from developers.

In April, released the second beta of Visual Studio 2005, .NET Framework 2.0 beta 2, and the April Community Technology Preview (CTP) of SQL Server 2005.

Expect to see a developer platform integrated with Microsoft’s SQL Server 2005, highlighting Microsoft’s commitment to tying application development to back-end infrastructure.

The name change also thrusts the next version of Windows into a brighter spotlight ahead of Microsoft’s Professional Developer’s Conference in September, where developers will be able to dig even deeper into the latest Vista build after next week’s beta test release.

The next-generation operating system was originally announced in 2001, and officially unveiled at its 2003 developers’ conference. Since then, Longhorn, now Vista, has faced numerous delays, with developers scaling
some of its features in order to help get it out the door within the 2006 release year.

It is expected to have a number of improvements over the current Windows
platform however. Microsoft has been focusing on security and interoperability.

In addition, Microsoft said it will have Real Simple Syndication
in the platform.

That will allow developers to bring RSS data into applications without
having to manage synchronization or subscriptions. A common RSS Feed List
will maintain one list of the user’s subscriptions across all applications.

Despite the delays, analysts who follow Microsoft expect Vista to be an
important part of the company’s success in the next two years.

“Several new product cycles, including Windows x64, SQL server 2005, XBox
360, and eventually [Vista] and Office 12 promise to fuel a rebound to
solid double-digit top-line growth in [fiscal] 2006-2007,” analysts at SG
Cowen & Co. wrote in a note to investors this morning.

The official announcement came after Windows enthusiast site first broke the story Thursday evening. By then, the name was buzzing through the halls of a sales conference in Atlanta, which was part of the video announcement Friday.

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