Microsoft planned to set its course for the “third decade” of Windows when Bill Gates kicks off the company’s annual WinHEC conference in Seattle. The theme will be decidedly 64-bit as Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect is intending to formally announce that four 64-bit Windows operating systems are now shipping, three server versions and one for the client. Those platforms are the Windows Server 2003 x64 Standard Edition, Enterprise Edition and Datacenter Edition the Windows XP Professional x64 Edition.
Gates also will detail the forthcoming Longhorn client and server as keys to his third-generation theme.
Gates, according to company officials, will cast 16-bit and 32-bit computing, the first two Windows decades, in a nostalgic light before ushering in the third-decade’s Longhorn clients and servers and the Windows-era of 64-bit computing, an era that started long ago on other platforms such as Unix and Linux.
“We will talk about over 400 64-bit applications [from Microsoft and third-parties],” says Jeff Price, senior director for Windows server. “On the server side, it’s all the big databases and the line-of-business vendors.” Price said Microsoft also would make available SQL Server Service Pack 4, which includes some optimizations for 64-bit platforms.
Microsoft also is planning 64-bit versions of 13 products to be released over the next two years including SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio 2005, the .Net Framework, Commerce Server, BizTalk Server, Host Integration Server 2005, Virtual Server 2005 Service Pack 1 and Version 2.0, Virtual PC 2004 Service Pack 2 and Version 2.0, Services for Unix, Microsoft Operations Manager 3.0, and Exchange 12.
“The server folks think that by the end of the year that the vast majority of the servers that we ship will be 64-bit,” says Greg Sullivan, lead product manager in the Windows division. The company will continue to ship 32-bit versions of Longhorn. Sullivan also said that Microsoft would offer a free upgrade program for the x64 client to those users with 64-bit workstations and the 32-bit version of Windows XP Professional.
Gates also will take a turn at convincing the industry that Longhorn, which was stripped of many of its marquee features over the past year, is still a major release.
Two weeks ago, Jim Allchin, group vice president for platforms, went on a press tour to tout Longhorn as “a big deal” after critics questioned if Longhorn still warranted being called a major release. And last week at the Microsoft Management Summit, CEO Steve Ballmer called Longhorn a “platform for the next 10 years.” He said Longhorn had six key pillars, which he described in more general than specific terms, but highlighted 64-bit support and features for search, security and ease of deployment.
When originally introduced by Gates in 2003, Longhorn was described as having three pillars - WinFS, Indigo and Avalon. WinFS has since been pulled and is planned for introduction after Longhorn and Indigo and Avalon are being released as add-ons to Windows Server and Windows XP in addition to being supported in Longhorn.
At WinHEC, Gates will stir the Longhorn pot, speaking less about the features and APIs aimed at developers, and more about what Longhorn will mean for IT pros, knowledge workers, end-users and consumers, according to company officials.
He will demonstrate features such as built-in malware protection, protected user accounts and secure start-up, one of the first manifestations of Microsoft’s hardware-based Next Generation Secure Computing Base technology.
Gates also will show Longhorn’s instant-on, smart caching, disk optimization, hot patching, single image deployment, third-party code isolation, self-healing and diagnostic features.
And to show that WinFS, which Gates has called the Holy Grail of Longhorn, is not completely out of the picture, he will demonstrate features that use the NTFS file system to execute WinFS-like features such as querying meta data, managing folders and searching by authors and key words. All of those features work using WinFS technology built into the shell of the Longhorn OS.
What is missing is the APIs that would allow developers to tie those features into other applications that can take advantage of the relational data store created by WinFS.
Gates plans to show Avalon and Indigo as well.
Gates also will show three proto-type PCs running the Longhorn OS, including a mobile computer as thin as 10 sheets of paper. In addition, HP will show three new computers running Longhorn.
During WinHEC, Microsoft will release a pre-beta of Longhorn. A Beta 1 is planned for early summer, and Beta 2 is scheduled for year-end. Longhorn is expected to ship in the second half of 2006.
Also at the show, Microsoft is expected to make available the first public beta of Windows Server 2003 R2. The code is expected to mirror the Windows Server 2003 R2 Beta 2 that Microsoft made available to a limited number of beta testers last week. -- Network World Fusion (US)
Join the CIO New Zealand group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.