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Cuts to Longhorn Don’t Faze IT Managers
By Matthew Hicks

Microsoft’s sweeping changes to its next major Windows release are drawing little surprise from enterprise IT departments, many of whom were not counting on the most revolutionary changes promised in Longhorn.

Late last week, Microsoft announced that it was dropping a centerpiece of Longhorn called WinFS (Windows File System) in order to meet its schedule for releasing the desktop version in 2006 and the server version in 2007.


WinFS had been heralded as Microsoft’s next-generation storage subsystem for Windows that would improve the storage and retrieval of files.

For enterprises, the loss of WinFS in Longhorn is unlikely to meet much resistance. Few IT departments were ready for an overhaul in the way Windows stores and retrieves files, said David Smith, a vice president at market research firm Gartner Inc.

“I’m not hearing demand from enterprises for WinFS or a unified file system,” Smith said. “It’s a theoretical benefit that’s been hard for Microsoft to explain. This is a pragmatic [step], and overall it will let enterprises and developers do better planning.”

PointerWhat about software developers? Click here to read about their reaction to the Longhorn changes.

eWEEK Special Report: Windows' New Frontier

One benefit of Microsoft’s shifts is a more realistic schedule for its Windows release, analysts say. Development delays appeared to plague WinFS, but Longhorn still will include other key Longhorn components such as the “Avalon” graphics subsystem and the “Indigo” communications subsystem.

Along with unleashing a slimmer Longhorn, Microsoft plans to port Avalon and Indigo to Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, also in 2006. The Redmond, Wash., software maker pushed out WinFS to a still-uncertain future version of Windows and is pegging a first beta of the technology to coincide with when Longhorn client ships.

Despite the loss of WinFS, the Longhorn client should include features that will entice enterprises to upgrade, said Shawn Wildermuth, a senior consultant at Magenic Technologies Inc., based in Minneapolis. He was less certain about whether the Longhorn server plans would be attractive to corporate IT.

“The key features in Longhorn client will represent changes for the better as well as a maturing of the platform,” he said in an e-mail interview. “In that way, the Longhorn client is likely going to be an upgrade from Win XP that most enterprises will make.”

Next Page: Will the changes hasten or hinder enterprise migrations?

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