WinInfo Daily UPDATE--Short Takes--April 29, 2005

Why Longhorn Is a Train Wreck 

Many people have asked me to explain my comments about Longhorn being a train wreck. After 3 years of delays, I would think that the rationale behind that statement was obvious, but let me inject a few thoughts here. First, I was pretty impressed and, dare I say, excited 3 years ago when it became clear that Longhorn would be a major kitchen sink release the first the company had tried since the failed Cairo project. However, it's clear now that Microsoft isn't one enormous entity but rather hundreds of large autonomous entities. And getting these groups to work in concert is almost impossible. By early 2004, Longhorn was teetering under the weight of all the features it was supposed to support and nearing collapse. So Microsoft started from scratch rebuilt a componentized version of Windows Server 2003 with Service Pack 1 SP1 to serve as the Longhorn foundation then started adding back Longhorn features. Now, in late April 2005 the company is still unsure which features will make it into the final Longhorn product. The list of features that absolutely will make it in is extremely short. The list of features that might make it in is now quite long. As time goes by, features from the latter list will be added to the former if all goes well. If all doesn't go well then we're looking at what amounts to a Windows XP feature pack. Compared with the original vision for Longhorn, that's a train wreck. Microsoft has agreed to speak with me on the record about these concerns, so I should have a much longer look at the Longhorn development problems soon. For now I wish it were a better story.

Why Longhorn Will Rock 

On the flip side, it's important to understand that the public still hasn't seen many of the cool features that Microsoft will include in Longhorn. These features will still make for a compelling release, although we might be wondering in late 2006 why it took more than 5 years to deliver them. For example, the final Aero Glass UI is far nicer than anything the company has shown off publicly yet and will indeed be visually impressive. And a lot of development that I can't talk about yet is going on in the digital media space. Beta 1 will include some of these features, but Beta 2 will be even more impressive. Alas, that release could drift into early 2006.

Microsoft Revenues Disappoint 

Microsoft has reported quarterly earnings of $2.56 billion more than double the amount it earned in the same quarter a year earlier. Revenues were up just 5 percent, however, to $9.62 billion causing disappointment in some circles. The problem? Charges related to Microsoft's legal expenses and stock based compensation took a bite out of the bottom line. And the company's cash cows, Windows and Microsoft Office, saw sales rise only 3 percent and 2.5 percent respectively. In the good news department, Microsoft's home and entertainment division (which sells the Xbox), saw revenues rise 12 percent. Meanwhile, mobile and embedded devices rose a whopping 31 percent thanks to strong demand for Windows Mobile products.

But Wait! There's More!

Speaking of Microsoft's quarterly earnings the company made an interesting admission during a conference call with reporters and analysts. Revenues from its Windows OSs won't keep pace with the expected growth in PC sales this coming quarter. So even though PC sales will grow 10 percent to 12 percent depending on whom you talk to Windows sales will grow only 8 percent to 9 percent. But hey, that's better than the previous quarter when PC sales grew 10 percent while Windows sales grew only 2 percent. I guess that "Start Something" marketing campaign for the 4 year old XP suddenly makes sense. It's successor, code named Longhorn, won't be available until late 2006. It's going to be a long year and a half for the software giant.

Microsoft Settles Yet Another Lawsuit 

Microsoft announced yesterday that it settled an antitrust lawsuit with the state of Nebraska and will pay plaintiffs $22.6 million in vouchers. As with most of Microsoft's other antitrust settlements the biggest beneficiaries will be the poorest schools in the state. Meanwhile, we can expect about six people to actually cash in their vouchers. Why does anyone think this is a good idea?

Gates Wants More Insourcing 

Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect, Bill Gates, is asking the US government to let more foreign citizens work at US corporations. Gates says that current work visa limits are preventing skilled workers from coming to the United States costing the country its lead in computer science and other industries. "This is almost a case of a centrally controlled economy," Gates said yesterday at the Library of Congress. "If the demand is there why have the regulation at all Congress placed a cap on the issuance of work visas in the name of security and to protect jobs for US citizens." But the limits have reduced the number of workers coming into this country each year from 195,000 to 65,000 workers. "We're just not seeing an available labor pool," Gates added. Maybe that's why Longhorn is late, eh?

Apple Ships Its Longhorn on Schedule 

At 6:00 o'clock tonight Apple Computer stores around the country will begin selling Apple's next generation Mac OS X, code named Tiger. In case you were off visiting remote areas of Burma for the past year and a half, Tiger offers many of the features that Microsoft promises for Longhorn but it delivers them today. Sadly, Tiger doesn't run on standard Intel hardware but if the rumors we heard at Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2005 are true that might change soon. In addition to the Microsoft evangelist who told us that Apple was moving to Intel, an Intel engineer was claiming that Intel compatible versions of Tiger are now running in the company's Santa Clara California labs. True, or bogus, what the heck. Rumors like this are just fun!

A Look Back a Look Ahead 

If you've been following my WinHEC blogs on the Windows Daily UPDATE Web site you already know that this week has been kind of disappointing for me. On a more positive note, though I ran into an amazing number of Windows IT Pro readers at the show, which is always humbling. And I have several potentially interesting things planned for next week including an in depth look at Longhorn build 5048. In the meantime, I'm in Phoenix for a few days to celebrate a friend's 40th birthday, so I'm going to take the next few days off. I'll wake up again sometime around Sunday. Next Sunday

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