Will Longhorn be worth the pain?

Will Longhorn be worth the pain?

Summary: Microsoft has removed some of the functionality from the next version of Windows to bring forward the release date, which could make the decision to upgrade even more difficult for some companies


After re-jigging the 'three pillars' of functionality that underpin the next version of Windows, codenamed Longhorn, Microsoft will need to work hard in the months ahead if it is to provide customers with compelling reasons to migrate.

The three pillars of the software giant's next generation Windows OS, due to ship in late 2006, originally comprised Avalon, a new graphics and presentation subsystem, Indigo, a Web services and communications architecture, and WinFS, a new file system.

But Microsoft has now decided to backport Avalon and Indigo to Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 to encourage developers to start building applications, which means the features are no longer unique to Longhorn. It has also stripped out WinFS completely and will not now make the offering available in the initial client release of Longhorn at all, let alone the server version. Full details of the three pillars of Longhorn, and details on what has happenned to them since they were first announced, can be be found on the last page of this article.

Neil Macehiter, a partner at MWD Advisors, believes that the move reflects the importance that Microsoft attaches to companies signing up to its Software Assurance programme — a three-year software maintenance scheme by which mid-sized and large enterprise customers agree to pay a set annual fee to receive upgrades without having to pay extra. The obvious appeal of the scheme to Microsoft is that it receives a predictable revenue stream.

But customers, especially in Europe, have been voicing dissatisfaction because many feel they have not received value for money over recent years from the SA scheme. This, according to Annette Jump, a principal analyst at Gartner, has led the software vendor to try and "add value through initiatives such as training and support to persuade companies to sign up again and in some cases, it's even reducing prices".

But Macehiter believes that Microsoft's back-porting strategy, while useful to encourage crucial developer buy-in, is also a "double-edged sword".

"Microsoft must provide developers with access to the technology — hence the availability of Avalon, Indigo and WinFS on Windows XP and Server 2003 — but that means the applications will also be available on pre-Longhorn releases of the OS, potentially reducing the incentive to upgrade," he says.

Topic: Operating Systems

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  • You asked, so I'll answer...
    "NO" !

    Microsoft products are always overhyped.
    I still use Windows 98/NT and in rare cases 2000.
    When Microsoft reeeeally has something that I "NEED" then I'll switch.

    Until Mickeysoft shows me something I HAVE TO HAVE (as in "I" want it) I'll stick with what I have.

    And since I am in charge of what my company does with computers, I will never allow anything newer from them in this building!

    And since there's no such thing anymore as using Microsoft's software without them having all your info on record, I'll probably never switch over. I STILL believe I have the right to use someone's software without having to have a RELATIONSHIP with the software creator.

    I don't need calls from them asking why I'm not constantly buying their lastest crap, or if I'm interested in new crap.
  • The only thing that's "reducing prices" are an increasing number of alternative solutions out there that certain people dont want you to know about. Let alone experience fully.
  • Pretty simple for me really, im a home user and although business is where ms makes its money most home users have living rooms, and that's where ms wants to expand in.

    for me i want prettier graphics, of course all of the pillars as described but as long as i get vector graphics/icons and a cool and customisable new interface with stickkies then im happy

    think about it xp will be 5yrs old, the way the industry has come on with mobile devices, 3d screens, water cooling, wireless and security it will be a no brainer - can't wait!!
  • Just switch to Linux. Make your own decisions about when and how to upgrade. Take control of your life.
  • I, too, am a home user. I don;lt wnat cute graphics. I want a steady OS that will run the programs I've already got and an occasional new one. And I don't want to ring up anyone for permission about anything. So I'm using win2000, but may go back to win98, because some new programs refuse to load on win2000 unless you have Service Packs installed and I don't want them either.