Microsoft Works Out Longhorn Schedule for First Half of 2006 "Months of customer complaints have finally had an effect on Microsoft. This week, the company acknowledged that it will deliver Longhorn, the next major Windows release, on a fixed schedule, ending years of vague delivery dates and glacial development. The slow move to a concrete timetable started last month when Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates--who in June 2000 stepped down as CEO specifically to have more of a hands-on role with Longhorn--said that conjectures about a 2006 release for the product were "valid." This week, however, internal company documentation corroborated by Microsoft representatives pins the Longhorn release date to "the first half of 2006." And the oft-delayed beta 1 release (originally due in late summer 2004) will ship in mid-February 2005, according to the documentation I've seen.
So which Longhorn features will Microsoft cut? According to a "BusinessWeek" article, the deleted features include a WinFS tool that would have aggregated content on a local network. However, the company is retaining similar features for the local system and for the Internet--features that will be more valuable for typical users. Presumably, a more network-friendly version of WinFS could ship in Longhorn Server, due 60 to 90 days after the Longhorn client ships, or in Blackcomb, the Windows release that will follow Longhorn.
Microsoft has also scaled back plans for a Longhorn-specific Microsoft Office release, and Microsoft Office 12 will run on other volume Windows versions in addition to Longhorn. "Microsoft knows that customers have different roll-out needs," a Microsoft representative told CNET.com. "We'll be working to ensure they can use the next version of Office with other recent versions of Windows as well."