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Microsoft lightens Longhorn

The word from Redmond is that the next client version of the Windows operating system won't feature some previously promised items.

Microsoft will indeed be trimming some things out of the initial release of the Longhorn client, the next version of the Windows desktop operating system.

The company said late Friday that it will hold delivery of its storage subsystem, WinFS, until after the Longhorn release. The graphical subsystem, code-named Avalon, and the communication subsystem, code-named Indigo, will be available in 2006, company officials said. Avalon and Indigo will also be made available on Windows XP and on Windows 2003 in 2006, the company said.

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Analysts said the decision was expected and will be most helpful to the corporate user down the road. "WinFS is the most interesting feature for corporations, but it's not interesting to corporations until it's available on servers," said Rob Helm, a consultant at Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash.-based consulting firm.

Originally, Microsoft had planned to have WinFS show up on the client and then appear in limited form on the server. "Perhaps they want to get WinFS out in more complete form when it finally does arrive," Helm said.

The good news for corporate customers is that this decision might shorten the gap between the client and Longhorn server, which is expected to ship in 2007, and may help Microsoft unify its code base. Customers would like to get back to a state where there is a similar service pack for both the client and the server, according to Helm.

"It's easier for corporations to maintain systems when clients and servers are on the same code," Helm said.

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