Hasten or Hinder

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

?"> But to Gartners Smith, it remains unclear whether the Longhorn shift will hasten or hinder enterprise migrations to the newer Windows release. He called Microsofts intent to provide elements of Longhorn for XP and Server 2003 as a move to "prime the pump for next upgrade cycle." "Enterprises tend to be rather conservative in upgrades and are not looking to do it quickly," Smith said. "One of the key challenges will be how they differentiate what youll be getting in an upgraded XP and this new [Longhorn] release." Read more here about Longhorns graphics features.
Civil engineering company Larkin Group Inc. falls into the conservative camp in Windows upgrades. The company just in the past few months began upgrading its 50-some desktops to Windows XP from Windows 2000, despite being a Windows-based IT shop, said Dennis Barr, the companys IT manager.
The reason: It uses high-end engineering applications and specialized printers that often encounter compatibility issues with new versions of Windows, Barr said. The Kansas City, Mo., company this year also expects to begin upgrading its servers to Windows Server 2003. "Since I was viewing the Windows File System as something along the lines of vaporware anyway, this has not affected any plans to migrate to the next operating system from Microsoft," Barr said. "Theres typically a 12- to 15-month lag between the time a new OS comes out and when we see compatibility issues and driver issues resolved in our applications, since we use something more than garden-variety peripherals." He expects to allow at least the same amount of lag time in deploying Longhorn, though Barr said he personally will begin testing Longhorn as soon as a beta is available. Microsoft is planning a first beta release next year. Still, the sudden shift in Microsofts Longhorn plans was no surprise to IT managers such as Barr. In fact, the idea of a revamped file system dates back more than a decade to a failed project Microsoft named "Cairo," Smith said. Click here to read more about Cairo and the path to Longhorn. Barr said Microsoft has a history of "promising the next big thing" for Windows and then scaling back its plans. Against that backdrop, Barr said he will wait until late 2005, once the Longhorn beta code is out to developer, before taking the newest Windows release plans too seriously. "Every release seems like its being called the biggest OS change they have ever made, but in this case it seemed like it was true," Barr said. Wildermuth, who said he has worked with alpha and pre-alpha builds of Longhorn, said he understands why Microsoft ditched WinFS. Having promised publicly to get Longhorn out in 2006, the company had to choose to either pare it back or extend the delivery date, he said. The delay of Longhorn is one more reason to try a Linux desktop, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols writes. Click here for his column. But without WinFS, Microsoft will be hard-pressed to deliver on its more ambitious initiatives, such as its aim to build deeper desktop-search capabilities into the OS, Wildermuth said. "At the end of the day, I understand the decisions they made, but at the same time, I am very disappointed that WinFS is being pushed out," Wildermuth said. "It doesnt give me much faith [that] it will ever make the light of day." Check out eWEEK.coms Windows Center at http://windows.eweek.com for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.

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Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for eWEEK.com, 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 eWEEK.com. Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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