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Executive Stakes in Longhorn

The roles of a handful of top executives in shaping the Windows "Longhorn" project so far have come to light.

Bill Gates -- chairman and chief software architect. Gates has been an advocate of overhauling the Windows file system for about a decade to allow effective searches across all file types. He has described this quest as a "holy grail," and is known to be a major advocate of pushing the WinFS technology that got cut from Longhorn. He can be expected to be a strong voice for trying to shepherd the technology back into Windows. Gates is also known to be enthusiastic about creating an exciting new interface for Windows, and his stamp should be apparent when the UI begins to take public shape.

Peter Spiro -- A member of the original 2000 class of Microsoft Distinguished Engineers. Spiro was brought over from the SQL Server team to head up the WinFS development group within Longhorn.

Jim Allchin -- Microsoft's no-nonsense group vice president of platforms has a long track record of bringing Windows projects to market. Allchin appears to have been a major player in boiling down the burgeoning Longhorn project to its essentials to ship in 2006.

Brian Valentine -- Microsoft's legendary "shipper" served as Allchin's lieutenant in gathering the customer and developer feedback that brought Longhorn to its slimmed down form in August.

Steve Ballmer -- Boosted Longhorn as one of the bet the company type initiatives. Identified by Gates as a part of the decision process in dropping WinFS, back-porting WinFX/Avalon/Indigo to Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 and settling on a 2006 ship date.

Joe Peterson -- Microsoft vice president who wrote the March 19 memo obtained by Business Week that gave one of the first public hints that WinFS was going to be seriously scaled back. "I think we all recognize that we need to turn the corner on Longhorn," Peterson wrote. "We are going to focus on doing fewer things, and doing them well." Peterson's e-mail served to set up meetings of Windows leaders through the middle of April. Public disclosure of the scope of the scaleback of Longhorn wouldn't occur until late August.

About the Author

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

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