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WinInfo Daily UPDATE, January 13, 2005

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In the News

- As Schedule Firms Up, Longhorn Packaging Evolves

==== In the News ====

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

As Schedule Firms Up, Longhorn Packaging Evolves

As Microsoft approaches a mid-March 2005 beta 1 release of its next-generation OS, code-named Longhorn, the company is also starting to reevaluate which product editions it will ship. When Windows XP first arrived in 2001, the company had a simple product lineup, with XP Professional Edition and XP Home Edition. Since then, however, Microsoft has confused the market with separate editions called XP Media Center Edition (XP MCE), XP Tablet PC Edition, and XP Starter Edition. With Longhorn, however, things could get even more confusing. According to Microsoft sources, the company is considering greatly expanding the number of Longhorn product editions, as it has done with Microsoft Office and Visual Studio (VS). In addition to the editions that exist today, the company might add a Small Business Edition and an "uber" edition that combines all the features and functionality from Pro, Home, Media Center, Tablet PC, and Small Business editions.
Additionally, many of the product names will change. For example, today's Tablet PC Edition will likely adopt a name that is more applicable to general mobility and not specific to Tablet PC devices. Or, sources say, Tablet PC OS features might simply be melded into the core OS. Microsoft would like to use more descriptive and friendly names for its Windows products and provide more overlapping functionality between the product versions. The naming and product distinctions are all up in the air, although the company expects to finalize that by second quarter 2005. What's not up in the air, however, is Longhorn's ship date. The company has committed internally to ship Longhorn in May 2006. To meet this date, Microsoft has scheduled a March 16, 2005, beta 1 release and a third quarter 2005 beta 2 release that will coincide with September's Professional Developers Conference (PDC) 2005 event in Los Angeles. Longhorn will then experience three release candidate (RC) builds--RC0, RC1, and RC2--before shipping in May 2006. For more information about this updated timeline and the various product versions Microsoft is now considering, please refer to my SuperSite for Windows showcase, "The Road to Windows Longhorn 2005."

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