Enthusiasts progress with plans to resurrect Windows 'Longhorn'

Summary:Seven months after announcing plans to take up where Microsoft left off with its Windows Longhorn client development, a group of members of the Joejoe.org site have built a working protype of what they're calling "Longhorn Reloaded."

Seven months after announcing plans to take up where Microsoft left off with its Windows Longhorn client development, a group of members of the Joejoe.org site have built a working protype of what they're calling "Longhorn Reloaded."

longhorn-reloaded.jpg
Earlier this week, the Longhorn Reloaded developers and testers posted for download Milestone 1 of Longhorn Reloaded.

"Longhorn Reloaded is a Project dedicated to the revival of the Operating System known as Code Name 'Longhorn'. To put the projects aims simply, we aim to finish off what Microsoft started before the operating system was canceled. It is a modification of Windows 6.0.4074, which was originally released during the 2004 Windows Hardware Engineers Conference," explained the Longhorn Reloaded team on the Joejoe Web site.

For the record, Microsoft officials never claimed Longhorn, the release of Windows now known as Vista, was cancelled. Instead, Microsoft execs said they "reset" their plans for Longhorn in 2004 by decided to cut the Windows File System (WinFS) feature from the product and to use the Windows Server 2003 kernel as the core platform. But a number of developers and industry watchers have said they considered Vista to be a far cry from the operating system Microsoft originally demonsrated and described earlier this decade.

When the Longhorn Reloaded team announced its intentions to build a version of Windows built on the pre-release Build 4074 of Longhorn, many said it couldn't be done. If technical roadblocks didn't make the mission impossible, Microsoft's legal department would, the critics said.

"I would like to announce you that what no one could believe has finally reach(ed) a concrete delivery," said Jemaho, a k a JeanMarie Houvenaghel, the founder of Joejoe.org and supervisor of the Longhorn Reloaded project., via e-mail. "The enthusiasm for this project has never failed and is even more great now."

Updated (with responses from Jemaho): I asked Jemaho for a target date as to when the team hopes to be able to deliver a "final" release of Longhorn Reloaded. His response:

"As of now, and you probably know, the install procedure is posing troubles to the team, and it will be a main part for M2 (Milestone 2). The rest of a set of 'to do's' has been delivered by (team member) Alpha Addict but with no timetable. "

(The core Longhorn Reloaded team consists of seven Joejoe members, Jemaho said.)

I also asked whether Microsoft officials had expressed displeasure with what the Longhorn Reloaded team is trying to do.

"We haven't currently suffered any threats from Microsoft, maybe because Longhorn is considered abandonware, I don't know," Jemaho said. "Also I'm (not) a 100% sure that they are aware of the LHR (Longhorn Reloaded) situation. "

When I asked Microsoft about the Longhorn Reloaded team's efforts in October 2006, here is the response I received from a Microsoft spokeswoman:

“Microsoft actively encourages and supports independent developers to take advantage of the features available in our platform to create their own applications and services; however, the Windows end user licensing agreement does not allow users to modify and redistribute our code in this manner.”

Would you be interested in trying out Longhorn Reloaded? If and when the final is out, would you consider running it?

Topics: Windows, Microsoft

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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