As I noted earlier, word on the street was that changes were coming to Longhorn. Those changes have now been announced.
Largely the changes fall into 3 groups: Microsoft is committing to 2006 availability. Not just a release to manufacturing. Second, certain features will be made available sooner, specifically Avalon (the graphics subsystem) and Indigo (the new communications and web services subsystem). And, finally, WinFS has been pushed back until “later”, with a beta due when Longhorn ships. Presumably this means we’ll see WinFS in 2007.
What does this mean?
“By bringing these technologies to market in, say, second half 2005, Microsoft and developers could begin releasing Longhorn applications ahead of the new operating system’s launch”, says Joe Wilcox. It also means a smoother transition for businesses who had a tumultuous move to Windows 95, “where consumers and businesses had to upgrade the OS and many applications nearly simultaneously.”
Is this a good or a bad move? General sentiment seems to be a bit of both. It should allow the features of Longhorn earlier, while allowing some of the more revolutionary aspects later. Over time this translates to an easier migration, less disruption and a more modular approach to the OS, something Microsoft has been pushing in Windows 2003 Server.