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Longhorn round-up at Microsoft PDC

"Well, welcome to the 'Longhorn' PDC," Bill Gates said in his opening remarks at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles this week.

The chief software architect for the Redmond, Wash.-based software vendor noted that many had come to see demonstrations of Longhorn, the operating system that is supposed to be a quantum-leap, technological breakthrough that will create a paradigm shift and not crash so often.

"This is going to be a very big release -- the biggest release of this decade, the biggest since Windows 95," Gates said of Longhorn. "We're tackling three different areas: security, auto-installation [and] applications not interfering with each other. There's a lot in the fundamental area."

After that enthusiastic introduction, Gates turned to Jim Allchin, group vice president of Microsoft's Platforms Group, to get into the specifics.

Besides new security features, Longhorn will include performance features such as SuperFetch, which Allchin said would help applications to launch more quickly, and ClickOnce installation, which is designed to "speed and simplify" application deployment.

A key Longhorn subsystem is "WinFS," a storage technology that, according to Microsoft, allows developers to "take advantage of prebuilt data structures in their applications, and extend those structures to handle specific requirements."

Longhorn will also include a much-awaited new graphics subsystem for Windows presentation that will allow developers to take advantage of leading-edge graphics hardware and incorporate native support for declarative, markup-based programming, according to Allchin.

Finally, Longhorn will feature new communications technology, code-named "Indigo," which is designed for Web services application support with new capabilities for security, reliability, transaction messaging and interoperability.

Gates told his audience of professional Microsoft developers that the new technologies built into Longhorn would help them to build better applications faster: "For developers, we want to take the things that people have had to duplicate and bring those into the platform so that you can focus on other capabilities." The goal, he indicated, is to ensure that faster developments are driven by major new sub-systems.

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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