Microsoft Changes Windows’ Course Again

Microsoft Changes Windows’ Course Again

Mary Jo Foley

After revealing last fall that it had dropped plans to release the next versions of Windows client and server simultaneously, Microsoft is now rethinking its strategy, according to published reports coming out of the Microsoft Management Summit in Las Vegas.

Microsoft is now considering releasing a “Longhorn” server and a “Blackcomb” client. Last year, Redmond executives said the company had decided to make Longhorn a client-only release, and “Blackcomb” a server-only Windows product.

See “It’s Official: No ‘Longhorn’ Server On Tap”

In an interview with Computerworld, Microsoft Windows Server Senior VP Brian Valentine also offered ballpark timeframes — which are considerably later than dates the company has privately revealed to its partners and customers — as to when customers should expect Longhorn and Blackcomb.

Microsoft had been hoping to deliver Longhorn client by the end of 2004. Now, Valentine said, Microsoft is expecting to ship it in 2005. And Blackcomb? The 2006 target that Microsoft had told some customers it was shooting for? It’s now 2007 or 2008 before Blackcomb will ship, Valentine said.

Are the latest date slips what is causing Microsoft to rethink adding the Longhorn server and Blackcomb client releases to its roadmap?

Valentine says the company is still only considering the additional releases at this point, calling the situation “fluid.”

But he hinted in published interviews that Microsoft could simply take the layered services that it is delivering to run on top of Windows Server 2003, such as its “Greenwich” real-time communications service, its Windows Rights Management Services and Automated Deployment Services, and integrate them into a next-gen Windows server release.

He also said in one interview that Microsoft needs a server to help deliver on some of the technologies that it is promising for the Longhorn client.

Because Blackcomb will feature a brand-new kernel, Valentine said that it would not be difficult for Microsoft to deliver both a client and a server release based on it.

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Microsoft Watch.