Allchin on Longhorn: We've Had to Make Some Hard Trade-offs

Jim Allchin, Microsoft group vice president for platforms, discussed Microsoft's recent decisions on Windows "Longhorn" development in a recorded message for Microsoft's Channel 9 that was also posted to Microsoft's Download Center on Saturday.

"The bottom line is that we're going to make two big changes. And this is based on having completed [Windows XP] SP 2 and completing the [Windows XP] Media Center [Edition] and the [Windows XP] Tablet [PC Edition 2005] work along with the [Windows XP] Starter Edition.

"Now is the time for us to sort of do the reflection on, 'Are we doing exactly what our customers want in terms of both our partners, such as OEMs, corporate accounts, consumers and developers?'

"And so, we did that reflection, decided to make two changes.

"The first change is we're going to go hard-core for a Longhorn client in '06 and hard-core for a server release in '07.

"And the second thing that we're going to do is that we heard feedback from developers that they would like some of the Longhorn technology for breadth to be available on XP and Windows Server 2003. In particular our plan is to take "Avalon" and to take "Indigo" and make those available on those platforms.

"In order to become more crisp about the dates, we've had to make some hard trade-offs. One trade-off that we wrestled with for some time is, just like we got some feedback about what should happen with Avalon and Indigo, we got feedback on WinFS. One of the pieces of feedback was, 'Well, we really like Table Access, and, oh by the way, if we do just the client then some of the scenarios don't work out as well because we'd really like the new synchronization capabilities to go to the server, as well. We like client-server.'

"So, we were in a situation of, 'Do we keep going on this path or do we stop and take that feedback and do something about it?' So we're going to stop and do something about it.

"What that means is, given the hard focus on date, that WinFS won't be in the client release in '06. It will be in beta at that time. And then they will follow it up with shipment a little bit later.

"Now I think from my feedback of this, it's just brand new news today [Friday], it's been incredibly positive because I've personally talked to lots of corporate developers, what they want in terms of deployment, ... what they want in terms of the features of security.

"And then from the consumer side, people tell us they want us to fix malware and go with that problem. Along with the features that we already had, in terms of they still love all the searching, that people are excited about the arrow UI and the like. But they really want us to make sure that we nail the basics. And so we're spending a lot more focus on that. And of course we'll also have the APIs that we've talked about except it won't have the WinFS APIs because that won't have shipped yet.

"So The feedback has been super positive. Some people are really dancing everywhere because they're saying, 'Hey, I can really get this technology earlier than I could have before,' and certainly the hardware vendors are super happy."

Allchin's four-minute talk is available for download as a Windows Media movie file here.

About the Author

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

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