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The long road…(The final chapter-Part4)

January 22nd, 2006 by Patrick S

From “Longhorn” to the beta 2 release, Windows Vista has had a rough journey.
It’s telling that after all these years even a company like Microsoft is still learning just how hard it is to design and create operating systems. When we first heard of Longhorn there were a number of promises of what the exciting next incarnation of Windows was going to look like, and what it would do better than before.
Now at Beta 2 we can see that you don’t always get what you wish for. The journey from Longhorn to Vista has seen Microsoft re-think the priorities on what’s feasible in this next-generation operating system, and what exciting features the world may not yet be ready for.


After the release of Windows XP in October 2001, we were too caught up in the new OS to think about what would follow. It wasn’t until 2002 that info started to seep into public view about the successor to Windows XP, codenamed “Longhorn”, which was set to be more than just an upgrade. Based upon the Windows XP codebase, Longhorn promised to revolutionise the desktop and bring with it a host of features never seen before. These included…

“Restructuring and separation of the user interface from the kernel (and with the ability to take advantage of 3D rendering hardware to accelerate the desktop), a new user interface API (later named Avalon), the inclusion of the .NET developers framework, a new service-orientated messaging system (Indigo), a powerful integrated database and file system (WinFS), stronger integration of DRM (Digital Rights Management) and the Trusted Computing Platform”

And of course next-generation versions of Internet Explorer and Media Player. Naturally, security was also to be a strong focus for the OS in order to not repeat mistakes of the past. Microsoft was keen to keep Longhorn under wraps until 2003 where it demonstrated early builds of the operating system at its PDC (professional developers conference) 2003. Here it was announced that Longhorn would ship in 2005.


Then in 2004 something interesting happened: Microsoft, who used to build code upon code and turning its products into massive juggernauts, began to realize this method of development was going to fail them for Longhorn. The planned features were too big for the Windows XP codebase to handle and, remarkably, it went back to the drawing board. Instead it started again with Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 as a base, and began building the Longhorn feature set and components on this codebase. With it came a more modular design, one that would support the operating systems growth and adaptability to the various target markets Microsoft had planned for the OS. This setback meant a number of features wouldn’t be able to make it to the final Longhorn build if Microsoft was to keep any sort or release date. One of the casualties was the long-awaited Win-FS. The release date is now set to 2006.


In April 2005 the first demonstration of the new operating system happened through the release of the Longhorn Developer Preview, an ‘alpha’ release designed to give developers a hands-on look at the OS.
Not long after, Microsoft announced that the OS was to be called Windows Vista, and in August 2005 released its first beta version to developers, partners and customers.  Though not an essential component, an uproar erupted over the exclusion of a new desktop component known as the sidebar. Present in earlier Longhorn builds, the sleek panel is designed to sport all manner of gadgets for information display-and was looking to give Apple a run for its money in the swank desktop department.


In October 2005, Windows Vista Beta 1 was released and for the first time we got to see a more complete version on Microsoft’s next OS. The sidebar returned along with the all new tab-enabled IE7 and our first look at Media Player 11. Since Beta 1 Microsoft is trying something it hasn’t done before-releasing regular updated builds of the OS to developers and partners through its Community Technology Preview (CTP) program. Currently, a new CTP build is being released nearly every month.


After the numerous delays it’s natural to be sceptical about when Windows Vista will finally be complete. The operating system is supposed to be ‘widely available’ in 2006, with initial reports putting release in May. If the OS were to be delayed again, it can only be a good thing. Better Microsoft gets it right this time than release another troubled operating system. When it arrives Windows Vista will come in up to nine different flavours. For the home there will be Windows Vista starter edition, Windows Vista Home Basic Edition, Windows Vista Home Premium Edition and Windows Vista Ultimate Edition. Roughly, Home Basic and Home Premium will correlate to XP Home and XP Professional accordingly, but just what will set Basic, Starter and Ultimate editions apart isn’t set in stone yet. For Business there will be Windows Vista Small Business Edition, Windows Vista Professional Edition, and Windows Vista Enterprise Edition.  Again we will all hear more about this closer to release.


The much anticipated WinFS will be available as an add-on for Vista after its release, but just when this will be isn’t clear. And for Patrick E similarly, the planned command line update Monad is expected to be available by the time the server components of Vista ship in 2007.

Well that’s part 4 to the 4 part series. The End 😛

Posted in Windows Vista | 8 Comments »

This entry was posted on Sunday, January 22nd, 2006 at 5:33 am and is filed under Windows Vista. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

8 Responses

  1. Brodie Says:

    Sweet post man, very informative, although I must say i wont be one of thoes people waiting inline to get my hands on vista, ill buy it when it comes! Ill be interested to see what this WindFS format does and how it differs from current technology! You honestly should become a jounolist!

  2. Jabez Gan Says:

    Quote “In October 2005, Windows Vista Beta 2 was released and for the first time ”

    Beta 2 isn’t out yet…

  3. Patrick S Says:

    Well the disk says beta 2 release notes…so i took it as being beta 2.

  4. Jabez Gan Says:

    It’s not beta 2, but that development branch is the Beta 2 branch. Beta 2 is expected to be released soon (feb I would say…). you will see lots of major announcements and the public beta (hopefully) when Beta 2 is released. 🙂

  5. Patrick S Says:

    So remove Beta 2 from the article?
    And does that mean there is going to be a whole lot more people entering Vista for Beta 2?

  6. Jabez Gan Says:

    Yeah to avoid confusions, I suggest that we remove Beta 2, but just add the build number instead. 🙂

    Public Beta, usually they will be in another beta and not with us. But I do think that there will be additional testers added to Connect with us too…

  7. Patrick E Says:

    At beta 2 milestone? Yeah — should pick up some more TechBeta testers as well.. at least on Whistler it worked that way..

  8. Patrick S Says:

    My goodness…They are really going all out with testers! There will be alot!