Longhorn Likely to Slip to 2006
Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates has pointed to 2006 as the likely release year for the next version of Windows, code-named Longhorn.
Speaking at Gartner's Symposium/ITexpo event in San Diego Monday, Gates stopped short of setting 2006 as the year for Longhorn. He said, however, that industry speculation that the operating system will come out in 2006 is "probably valid speculation."
Gates also said Microsoft will release an alpha version of Longhorn later this year. He did not mention the first beta version that Microsoft had said earlier it would deliver in 2004. A beta is further along in the development cycle of software than an alpha. "We will have an alpha release out this year that everybody can look at," Gates said.
The company's goal is still to come out with a Longhorn beta this year, but Microsoft plans to release an alpha version of the operating system before then, a Microsoft spokesperson says. This alpha version will be made available to software developers, but exactly how Microsoft will distribute the software is yet to be decided, he adds.
At the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) in May last year, Microsoft executives said the company would deliver Longhorn in 2005. Later, they backed away from that comment.
Company executives have since declined to specify a release year for Longhorn, which Gates called a "big breakthrough release" for Microsoft.
This week, Gates cautioned that dates on Longhorn are fluid.
"Longhorn is not a date-driven release," Gates said. There are a lot of technological must-haves for Longhorn, and those could hold back a release if they aren't completed on time, Gates said.
Software developers have already had a first look at Longhorn. Microsoft released a special preview version of the software at its Professional Developers Conference last October.
Gates also talked about several other topics, including some familiar ones, such as Microsoft's focus on security, the vendor's efforts to combat spam, and its multibillion dollar research and development budget. The onstage interview was conducted by Gartner chair and CEO Michael Fleisher.