Windows Roadmap Includes Six OS Releases

If you thought the next major rev of the Microsoft Windows operating system was the successor to Windows XP code named Longhorn, executives at WinHEC would make you think again.

May 5, 2004

4 Min Read
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Opening day of the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference yesterday featured a newly minted outline of the Windows operating system roadmap, peeks at concept PCs and other consumer electronics devices of the future. If you thought the next major rev of the Microsoft Windows operating system was the successor to Windows XP code named Longhorn, executives at WinHEC would make you think again. There will be at least six operating system releases before Longhorn, according to the company's short-range operating systems product roadmap as discussed by Group Vice President for the Platforms Group Jim Allchin.

The first product on Allchin's 2004 slide wasn't technically an OS, but a service pack -- Windows XP Service Pack 2 with Advanced Security Technologies.

Windows XP SP2 focuses on making the user experience "safe," Allchin said. It blocks pop-ups, avoids "drive-by downloads," has better intrusion detection, and has safer e-mail and instant messaging. For example, it won't auto run a .exe file when it's opened in an e-mail attachment. "Accidental exposure will drop," he said.

Also on the 2004 operating system roadmap chart were: Windows XP Tablet PC, Portable Windows Media Center, Windows CE 5.0, Windows Media Center XP Support for Media Center Extender, Smart Phone Pocket PC, and Windows XP 64-bit Edition for 64-bit Extended Systems.

After XP, "the next huge wave is the media center," Allchin said. "Just across the board making huge advances in terms of the media experience."The single entry for 2005 was Longhorn Beta 1. Allchin pledged that a new developer build of Longhorn would be delivered to WinHEC attendees by the end of the four-day conference.

On another slide showing the server side, Allchin etched out an equally ambitious course. For 2004, he notes the shipment of Windows Servers 2003 64-bit Edition, Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, Windows Small Business Server 2003 SP1. For 2005, he sees Microsoft Virtual Server 2005, Windows Small Business Server 2003 Update, Windows Storage Server code-named "Storm," and Longhorn Server Beta 1.

Longhorn client and server betas would be released concurrently, he said.

Allchin repeatedly reinforced the "experiences" theme that the company introduced with Windows XP, speaking glowingly about extending the "computing experience," and the "PC experience" into newer, mostly consumer electronics, devices.

"It's all about sights, sounds, feelings and emotions," he said. "If we follow this experience direction, we will make the PC much stronger than it is today in places like the office and home, where it is already strong and we can take it into places where today we are just getting into: the living room, the garage, the wristwatch."In his keynote, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates emphasized the coming importance of 64-bit computing.

"It's long been a dream to get it so you didn't have to think of high-end computing and PC computing as two separate things," Gates said. "A fundamental piece of that is this move to 64-bit computing."

The transition from 32- to 64-bit computing will a smoother transition than any previous transition, Gates said, crediting chip companies.

"Between now and the end of 2005, we'll go from having very few 64-bit chips out there to virtually 100 percent of what AMD ships and a majority of what Intel ships within less than two years we'll be will be 64-bit-capable chips," Gates said. "This is going to be a really wonderful transition."

Microsoft executives also discussed the idea of reducing the complexity of connecting a multitude of devices to various networks. The company said it plans to bring Web services to a broader range of devices including printers, digital picture frames and others. To this end, Microsoft introduced the Devices Profile for Web Services and a Network Connected Device Driver Development Kit. The Devices Profile specification, co-authored by Intel, Lexmark and Ricoh, details how to connect smart devices via web services.WinHEC, now in its 13th year, is an annual gathering for hardware industry insiders to hear about long-range development plans from Microsoft. WinHEC is "a place to learn, to collaborate and to build new experiences for users," Brad Carpenter, director of Windows Hardware Quality told attendees at the start of the conference.

Attendees drill down in sessions on key topics ranging from Windows drivers to power management. Some specific sessions this year include: the Windows Driver Foundation, Advanced Kernel Debugging, New Storage Stack Architecture, and Device Install for Longhorn.

Also in conjunction with WinHEC, Microsoft released new figures showing retail and new PC sales of Windows XP had exceeded 210 million copies since it was released in 2001.

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