Latehorn Time Frame May Be Hard to Swallow

Analysis: When developers arrive this week in Los Angeles for their annual feast at the Microsoft table, they'll get more appetizers than entrees.

When developers arrive this week in Los Angeles for their annual feast at the Microsoft table, theyll get more appetizers than entrees. Considering the ravenous appetites in this crowd, its surprising to see them flocking to a place where the sign reads "Dinner will be served in three years"—which is when the "Longhorn" version of Windows is scheduled to arrive.

Microsoft promised developers an easy transition from authoring active Web pages to disclosing and consuming Web services. The companys tools and technologies aimed at those ends took a while to deliver, with a gap of many years between the last Visual Studio and the first Visual Studio .Net, but the result satisfied many developers as worth the wait.

For some developers, however, another three years wait is too long. Theyve made promises to their front-office managers, and they need to eat right now. The open-source deli is open; the Apple bistro is serving fresh-sliced Panther, no waiting. Microsoft is betting that most enterprises are still digesting Web-based applications and that theyre willing to wait.

For those who choose to place themselves in the hands of the Microsoft maitre d, we suggest the following strategies: Request lists of ingredients; any modern establishment is proud to disclose the standards on which its offerings are based. Beware of allergic reactions; be certain that todays and tomorrows menus can coexist with what you ate yesterday. And if you arent sure what the menu descriptions mean, ask; aged beef may be a premium delicacy, but sliced "Latehorn" may be merely jerky.

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Technology Editor Peter Coffee can be reached at peter_coffee@ziffdavis.com.