Legal Reasons for Longhorn
Delay?"> As for the reasons Microsoft is further delaying Longhorn, one theory is that the company could be postponing the release of the next wave of its flagship products until the remedy order issued last year by Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly to settle the antitrust case against Microsoft expires. That agreement, valid for five years, forces Microsoft to make available for license the protocols between its client and server environments.But Microsoft spokeswoman Erica Beyer said it is "highly unlikely" that Longhorn will be released after the consent decree expires in November 2007, adding that "also, any and all relevant APIs will be disclosed as documented on release of the product." But the delays also raise a potential problem for Microsoft. Those customers who subscribe to its Licensing 6 and Software Assurance program expect access to the next upgrade of Microsoft products. "If you bought Software Assurance this year or last, under a three-year contract, what if the product upgrades dont come out by the time your contract expires and you dont get an upgrade out of the deal?" Gillen asked. That is one reason Microsoft has been evolving Software Assurance into more than a simple maintenance program. The company is now offering training, technical support and other components to make it a compelling offering beyond just a product upgrade, Gillen said. Microsofts Breyer also made clear that the company does not guarantee any upgrades during the term of customers contracts. "This is an important consideration that Microsofts customers take into account when purchasing Software Assurance, which is a long-term, ongoing relationship between Microsoft and its customers, and a great deal of value comes from staying on SA long-term," she said. An enterprise customer in the national security industry, who requested anonymity, said that he intends to hold Microsoft to its promise of greater interoperability and that he will not sit back and allow the company to reverse the gains made to date on this front. "We will exert enormous pressure on Microsoft to make sure it lives up to its Licensing 6 and Software Assurance promises," he said. But according to IDCs Gillen, there are other possible reasons for the delay, including the fact that Microsofts ability to rapidly introduce change into its products is becoming increasingly difficult. Every time Microsoft makes a change, it must be supported in all the companys earlier products, he said. Discuss this in the eWeek forum.
"Once they get beyond the time frame of the remedy, they will be free to change the client and server protocols, which could make it more difficult to emulate a Windows server or client, as was the case prior to the remedy order," Al Gillen, an analyst with International Data Corp., in Framingham, Mass., told eWEEK.