Cuts to Longhorn Dont Faze IT Managers

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-08-31 Print this article Print

Microsoft's decision to drop the Windows File System and other features from its next Windows release didn't suprise many IT departments, with some saying the change will allow for better migration planning.

Microsofts sweeping changes to its next major Windows release are drawing little surprise from enterprise IT departments, many of whom were not counting on the most revolutionary changes promised in Longhorn. Late last week, Microsoft announced that it was dropping a centerpiece of Longhorn called WinFS (Windows File System) in order to meet its schedule for releasing the desktop version in 2006 and the server version in 2007. WinFS had been heralded as Microsofts next-generation storage subsystem for Windows that would improve the storage and retrieval of files.
For enterprises, the loss of WinFS in Longhorn is unlikely to meet much resistance. Few IT departments were ready for an overhaul in the way Windows stores and retrieves files, said David Smith, a vice president at market research firm Gartner Inc.
"Im not hearing demand from enterprises for WinFS or a unified file system," Smith said. "Its a theoretical benefit thats been hard for Microsoft to explain. This is a pragmatic [step], and overall it will let enterprises and developers do better planning." What about software developers? Click here to read about their reaction to the Longhorn changes. One benefit of Microsofts shifts is a more realistic schedule for its Windows release, analysts say. Development delays appeared to plague WinFS, but Longhorn still will include other key Longhorn components such as the "Avalon" graphics subsystem and the "Indigo" communications subsystem. Along with unleashing a slimmer Longhorn, Microsoft plans to port Avalon and Indigo to Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, also in 2006. The Redmond, Wash., software maker pushed out WinFS to a still-uncertain future version of Windows and is pegging a first beta of the technology to coincide with when Longhorn client ships. Despite the loss of WinFS, the Longhorn client should include features that will entice enterprises to upgrade, said Shawn Wildermuth, a senior consultant at Magenic Technologies Inc., based in Minneapolis. He was less certain about whether the Longhorn server plans would be attractive to corporate IT. "The key features in Longhorn client will represent changes for the better as well as a maturing of the platform," he said in an e-mail interview. "In that way, the Longhorn client is likely going to be an upgrade from Win XP that most enterprises will make." Next Page: Will the changes hasten or hinder enterprise migrations?

Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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