A newly leaked build of Longhorn, the next Windows desktop version, shows little progress over previous builds I've evaluated, suggesting that the product is still many months away from fruition. Longhorn build 4008 mysteriously showed up on USENET last Friday, sending enthusiasts scrambling to download the pre-release code. Delivered in ISO form, the Longhorn build can upgrade an existing Windows XP installation or be installed from scratch in its own partition.
One advance in build 4008 is a new setup routine that takes less than 20 minutes to install the product, including a single reboot, which is a major improvement over installing Windows 2000 or XP, which generally takes 45 minutes to an hour. It's unclear what Microsoft has changed to achieve such a speedy installation time, but many of the previously configurable options are also missing.
The basic Longhorn user interface has changed little since previous builds, and build 4008 still uses the ugly and temporary "Plex" visual style that it introduced last year. However, Plex is a placeholder and will be replaced by a visually stunning new UI sometime in the months ahead. Also missing in this build is WinFS (Windows Future Storage), the SQL Server "Yukon"-based file system, though there are interesting improvements to search and file display filtering that perhaps hint at functionality to come.
My full review of Longhorn build 4008, along with dozens of screenshots, will be available later today on the SuperSite for Windows.