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Gates Promises Longhorn Beta In 2005 Despite Security Concerns

Microsoft has recommitted to releasing Longhorn, its next-generation Windows client and server, into beta testing in 2005 even though its chairman acknowledged that security concerns threaten his dream of enabling seamless connectivity and Web services.

At the company's annual Windows Hardware Engineering Conference 2004 in Seattle, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates and executives demonstrated updated alpha and software development kit (SDK) of the Longhorn client, as well as potential Universal Plug and Play (UpnP) technology that could connect various Windows network-attached devices. Microsoft called the alpha a developer's preview. The first developer preview was released last fall.

Microsoft detailed efforts to enhance Windows connectivity by means of the Devices Profile for Web Services specification, which enables Web services to link smart devices, and USB Flash Drive technology for simplifying wireless network security. He acknowledged that enhancing connectivity does add new security concerns, but said Microsoft and its partners will make it work.

"All boundaries [between Windows devices] will be broken down by having software connectivity," said Gates, noting that OEMs can use Microsoft's own implementation of the Windows network connected technology to implement Web services on devices. "This is where software connections and high-speed network connections are critical .. Bringing together those worlds that have been separate is real important to us [and getting] that done in a secure way so you can discover it."

Gates predicted optimistically that new methods of isolating Windows from hacker attacks will dramatically ease the crisis over the next two years. Microsoft's plans to support Intel's "No Execute" (NX) memory protection, new wireless networking features and setup in Windows XP Service Pack 2, along with enhanced security in the next Internet Protocol stack will resolve the current security problems.

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