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Lawyers Confirm Late 2004 Ship Date for Longhorn

A Microsoft legal document put a late 2004 expected ship date on the next client version of Windows, code-named "Longhorn," putting in black and white what Microsoft officials have been telling partners, customers and reporters in private conversations.

".NET will not be included by default in Windows until the next version of Windows, expected to be released in late 2004," Microsoft lawyers wrote in legal filings last week.

The legal filings were appeals in the private antitrust lawsuit brought by Sun Microsystems against Microsoft. At issue was U.S. District Judge Frederick Motz' order for Microsoft to include Sun's Java Runtime Environment with all copies of Windows and Internet Explorer by June 4.

The Microsoft attorneys brought up the ship date in arguing that the order unfairly forces the company to include a competitors' Web services vehicle before it can put in its own. Microsoft distributed the first version of its .NET Framework just after shipping its last client operating system, Windows XP, in October 2001.

Little concrete information has emerged thus far about what features the Longhorn operating system will include. Aside from including the .NET Framework, which will also be included in Windows Server 2003, speculation and even public comments from Microsoft have suggested very aggressive features that will be difficult to deliver.

The OS could potentially carry the first new file system since NTFS, the Windows NT file system. That file system is rumored to be based on work being done in Yukon, the next version of SQL Server. Because the broad beta phase for Yukon isn't expected until the middle of this year, building the file system into Longhorn by the 2004 timeframe, will require fast work.

Microsoft officials have also talked about a single, unified interface for interacting with programs from word processors to spreadsheets to e-mail, a project that would require an overhaul of the Office suite as well.

The Palladium initiative, which requires cooperation with hardware vendors to tie operating system security and privacy to motherboard changes, has also been proposed for inclusion in Longhorn.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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