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2004
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Windows Longhorn

The Windows Longhorn Buzz

"Longhorn" is the codename for a major wave of technology and platform software from Microsoft. This generation of software will include new versions of Windows, Windows Server, .NET, MSN, Microsoft Office, and other products.

Windows "Longhorn" is the next major desktop Windows release, which will follow Windows XP; there is also a minor Windows Server revision that will ship in the Longhorn wave. Originally expected to be a fairly minor upgrade, Windows Longhorn will now include a number of new features including a revised task-based (or "iterative") user interface, an extensible, dock-like, Sidebar, and a SQL Server 2003-based storage engine called WinFS (Windows Future Storage).

Like Windows XP, Windows Longhorn will ship in different editions, though they might change from today's Home, Professional, Tablet PC, Media Center, 64-Bit Professional (Itanium), Professional Edition x64, and Embedded Editions.

What's New ?
  • Longhorn will feature a task-based (or "iterative") interface that goes far beyond the task-based interface found today in Windows XP. Microsoft has been working to move beyond the dated desktop metaphor still used by most desktop operating systems. This new user interface, or "user experience," is code-named "Aero" and is based on a new .NET-based graphics API called "Avalon," which replaces earlier graphics APIs such as GDI and GDI+, the latter of which debuted in Windows XP.
  • Longhorn will require 3D video hardware to render special effects that will make the screen more photorealistic and deep. This doesn't mean that the basic windows and mouse interface is being replaced, just that it will look a lot better.
  • Longhorn will optionally include the Palladium security technology Microsoft is developing with Intel and AMD (see the next question for details).
  • Longhorn will include new anti-virus (AV) APIs that will help developers more easily integrate their wares into the base OS. Microsoft will also offer Longhorn customers a subscription-based AV feature that use AutoUpdate to keep your system up-to-date with new virus signatures.
  • Longhorn will include integrated recordable DVD capabilities and will work with every type of recordable DVD format. Digital media enthusiasts will be able to copy video from a digital camcorder directly to recordable DVD, bypassing the system's hard drive entirely, if desired.
  • Longhorn will include an advanced version of the successful Error Reporting Tool (ERT) that shipped in Windows XP; the goal is that only a small number of customers should have to report a bug to Microsoft before the company fixes it and ships the fix electronically and automatically to users.
  • Longhorn will include a new Setup routine that installs the OS in about 15 minutes.
  • Longhorn will feature hundreds of new APIs that will let provide access to the new system's features. The Win32 API from previous Windows versions is being replaced by a new .NET-based API called WinFX, for example. It will also feature a new communications and collaboration subsystem, dubbed Indigo.
Win File System

WinFS is implemented as an add-on to NTFS and is not a completely new file system. Rather, it is a new storage engine built on the NTFS file system.

Microsoft is trying to make it easier for you to find your data on our ever-increasing hard drives. By adding relational database capabilities to the file system, it will take less time to find documents, email, and other data. In addition to the underlying WinFS technology, Microsoft is also adding a new file system concept called Libraries, which will organize like collections of data in Longhorn, regardless of where they are physically stored in the system. For example, a Photos & Movies Library would collect links to every digital photo and digital video on your system.

Developer's Standpoint

In the technology generations leading up to Longhorn, Microsoft has been moving to a .NET-based managed code environment dubbed WinFX, and the Longhorn generation will finally mark a clean split with the Win32 APIs of the past. That is, Win32 will be in maintenance mode, and all new development will occur with WinFX managed APIs. One such API, Avalon, forms the basis for the new Desktop Compositing Engine (DCE) in Longhorn that replaces GDI and GDI+. These and other new Longhorn APIs will utilize the XML Application markup language (XAML) to make Longhorn more accessible to developers than ever before. The idea is to significantly reduce the number of APIs and make the APIs more standardized. Today, there are over 76,000 Win32 APIs, and countless wrappers. With Longhorn, Microsoft hopes to reduce the API set to 8,000 to 10,000.

Another significant change in Longhorn involves device drivers. In the past, Microsoft allowed customers to use non-signed drivers, which helped compatibility, but caused stability problems. No more: In Longhorn, users hoping to take advantage of the system's exciting new capabilities will only be able to use signed drivers.

Palladium ?

One of the most exciting aspects of Longhorn is its optional integration with Palladium, Microsoft's technology for realizing its Trustworthy Computing vision. Palladium--now called Next Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB)--is basically a secure run-time environment for Windows and other operating systems that allows a coming generation of software applications and services to protect the end user from privacy invasion, outside hacking, spam, and other electronic attacks. Palladium requires special hardware security chips and microprocessors (which will be made by Intel and AMD) and doesn't interfere with the normal operation of the PC. That is, Palladium-based PCs will still operate normally, working with legacy operating systems and applications. But specially-made Palladium applications and services will offer a range of features of functionality not found in the non-Palladium world, and if the initiative is successful, we'll one day be running only Palladium-based software.

Screen Shots

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Source : Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows: Windows "Longhorn" FAQ
Fri, 16th Nov

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