Gates spills thoughts on Longhorn dilemma

If the pessimist sees the glass half empty and the optimist sees it half full, what do we make of Bill Gates seeing his Longhorn glass three-quarters full?

In an interview with CNET News.com after Microsoft laid the ground work for what will -- and won't -- be in the next version of the Windows client, the software maker's chairman said the decision to hold the ambitious new file store out of Longhorn was a logical choice. Inclusion of WinFS in the Longhorn client would have pushed that release well into 2007, he said, which would have then delayed Longhorn server.

Thus, a tradeoff was born: The Longhorn client will go out in 2006 minus WinFS, but in that same year, customers running Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 will get support for the technology that will make it into Longhorn. Specifically, that's

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Avalon (graphics system), Indigo (communications subsystem) and WinFX (application programming model).

"The plan we have does give up WinFS shipping with Longhorn," Gates said in the interview. "And so if you want my basic assessment here, the glass is three-quarters full."

Will this make everyone happy? Certainly not, but it works out pretty well for a lot of IT shops that are in the habit of waiting two years to deploy a new version of an operating system anyway. Those folks will likely be ready to install it about the time Longhorn SP1 hits the street.

Too far away for many to worry about

And in interviews with SearchWin2000.com, IT professionals are bearing this theory out. "[Longhorn's] not even on my radar," said Paul Theisen, IT director for The Tech Group Inc., of Scottsdale, Ariz.

Microsoft customers like Theisen will ultimately decide just how full or empty that glass really is.

In Boston this week, Microsoft's other very public face used a meeting of the Massachusetts Software Council as a forum to promote the company's efforts to unseat Google as the premier provider of search technology. CEO Steve Ballmer said Microsoft is "hell bent" on taking search to the next level because "people still have a hard time finding what they want to find on the Internet."

He only briefly mentioned Longhorn in his speech to software industry executives, jokingly calling Microsoft's recently announced timetable for the product a "breakthrough," alluding to the company's penchant for vagueness about release dates.

Elsewhere in the news

Sun Microsystems Inc. is finally showing signs that its springtime truce with Microsoft will produce more than platitudes. This week, Sun announced a discount program for those holding MCSE and MVP status. Those Microsoft professionals are eligible for up to 35% off Windows-certified Sun servers and workstations that run on AMD's Opteron chip. … Another sign that the Tong Wars between Microsoft and Sun are over is the announcement this week that Sun and others, including IBM, will join the standards process for a Web services communications specification called WS-Eventing. … Microsoft on Wednesday announced its second round of layoffs in a month. A total of 93 people got pink slips in the Windows Server division in these cuts, but a spokesperson for the company told The Seattle Times that the Windows Server team is also creating 44 new jobs. … A Microsoft executive said many customers can expect to see their cost for the company's server management software go down when it becomes generally available in the middle of this month. That's because the price of Microsoft Operations Manager 2005 will be based per server, rather than per CPU, according to David Hamilton, director of product management in the Windows management group. … And for Wired readers who thought Microsoft's Stephen Toulouse was committing a mortal sin by saying in an interview that he uses Mozilla's Firefox browser, his job is safe. In his blog, Toulouse, a security program manager with Microsoft's Security Response Center, wrote, "What really cracks me up are the sheer number of people who think Microsoft would fire me for saying I run Firefox on one of my machines." For the record, Toulouse said SP2 Internet Explorer is his primary browser.

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