?"> Still, other partners disagreed. One source who is close to Microsoft and familiar with its plans and who asked not to be identified said another motivating factor for XP Reloaded is the belief at Microsoft and among many of its partners that the company would have to offer an unbundling capability to meet the EUs antitrust requirements. "If you are going to do that, you might as well practice that on the existing code base and work out the bugs, see how that is really going to work," the source said. "And then spend a year seeing what people really do unbundled, and what theyre really willing to pay for as a feature, before making a final decision on the pricing of the feature set for Longhorn.""It will be possible to buy a product where you can specify, fairly granularly, what feature set gets installed," the source said. "This will be due to the EU antitrust and not because of consumer demand because end users frankly dont care. Ironically, this will make Windows look a lot more like Linux." Some IT professionals welcome the EUs antitrust stance. "Microsoft is a monopoly," said Brian Riley, senior programmer and analyst at a U.S. health care services company. "They were ruled a monopoly by the U.S. legal system. They are trying to extend that monopoly to digital media. I am cheering the EU decision, and I would like Microsoft to back off on this one." Microsoft officials have long declined to give a definitive date for Longhorns release, but some experts said it is unlikely to happen before the second half of 2006. However, they say Microsoft will want to ship a new build of the platform before then. The company had originally planned to ship the product by the end of this year. Thats where XP Reloaded comes in. The release will allow Microsoft to get some Longhorn features out to market early and shorten the step to Longhorn, especially if the company is able to release some manageability features early. "Its my understanding that they wont do anything radical with the user interface in the XP Reloaded release, but they will be able to synchronize the protocol stack on the client and the server," Cap Geminis Parkinson said. Nonetheless, Microsofts Muglia said no final decision has been made on how to deliver an interim server software plan. "There will be software made available on an interim basis, whether its packaged as a single release or not," Muglia said. "Were still trying to figure that out." Some enterprise executives believe the Longhorn delay is necessary and said theyre in no rush to buy an interim upgrade. "It is much better for the corporate world for Microsoft to get it right the first time than to have all kinds of problems with Longhorn that affect corporate productivity," said Charles Reid, who is project manager for iNet-Consulting.com Inc., in Los Angeles. "None of our corporate clients are eager to deploy another version of either the desktop or the server any time soon. They have spent or are spending millions getting XP deployed and stabilized. And deploying Longhorn either in 2006 or 2007 is not high on their priority list." Check out eWEEK.coms Windows Center at http://windows.eweek.com for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis. Be sure to add our eWEEK.com Windows news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page:
According to the source, Microsoft would have to do some stability engineering and, by tying together all the components of Windows as tightly as they are today, would incur some regression testing costs. "But there is a solution to that, so the manifest-based deployment stuff in Longhorn will now come out earlier," the source said.