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Source: Microsoft's Longhorn PDC preview to lack GUI

Microsoft Corp. is expected to show off its next-generation operating system at its upcoming Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles later this month, but attendees hoping to get their hands on a version with the new interface will probably be disappointed. The word from Redmond is that the software giant will hand out a pre-beta of the OS, code-named "Longhorn," during Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates' opening keynote, but the new "Aero" GUI won't be part of it.

Microsoft has forked the Longhorn code to develop a special PDC build that is separate and distinct from the main code fork, a source at Microsoft told eADT and, at this point, the company is struggling to complete that build before the show. The source confirmed that the build would include just about every Longhorn technology except Aero.

Longhorn is set to ship in late 2005 or early 2006, and Microsoft has been tying a number of products to its release. The company's upcoming product line, code-named "Project Green" will be built on what Microsoft calls a new "global code base," and will meld the functionality of technologies from Microsoft Business Solutions' Great Plains, Navision and Solomon business applications, the company has said.

Attendees may be looking at a GUI-less Longhorn, but Microsoft is expected to provide some real technical detail on "Avalon," the graphics engine that drives the pretty pictures. Microsoft has described the technology as "a brand new client platform for building smart, connected, media rich applications in Longhorn." Microsoft has said that Avalon with allow developers to build apps with greater resolution than Windows currently supports -- 120 dots per inch or higher. (XP supports about 75 dots per inch on a typical 17-inch display). Developers at the show will be told how to take advantage of Avalon in their applications, the company said.

Avalon makes it possible for Longhorn to support new styles of user interfaces and user interface elements. Thanks to Avalon, developers will be able to create Windows client applications that use the type of navigation features found on the Web to browse through information, according to the PDC session calendar.

The PDC, which is scheduled to run October 26-30 at the LA Convention Center, is expected to give attendees technical previews of Visual Studio .NET 2004 (code-named "Whidbey"); SQL Server 2004 (code-named "Yukon"); "Indigo," Microsoft's new programming model and framework for building connected applications and Web services; WinFS (Windows Future Storage), Microsoft's new file system/NTFS resource manager; SDKs for Longhorn; and the Next Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB, code-named "Palladium").

Interestingly, Office System 2003, the latest upgrade of Microsoft's market dominating productivity suite, is scheduled for release before the show (October 21). Along with the familiar group of office apps -- Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Outlook -- Office System 2003 will include the SharePoint collaboration tool; InfoPath, a new application for designing and executing dynamic electronic forms and data input templates; and OneNote, an application that supports pen input on Tablet PCs.

Microsoft is also set to launch its online Longhorn Developer Center during the show (October 27). The MSDN Longhorn Center will include feature articles and discussion groups focusing on the next Windows operating system.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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