Spare Us From All Windows Interim Releases

Microsoft's past history with interim releases may be reason enough for the company and customers to worry about the so-called Windows XP Reloaded. Show us the beef: Windows Longhorn.

You heard it here first: Windows Longhorn, the follow-on to Windows XP, wont be on store shelves until 2008—some three years later than the 2005 date Microsoft announced last May. While even the most pessimistic of developer sources now predicts a 2007 launch, I will put my stake in for yet another year.

This is just a guess, but Ive been right before. I was the first to predict that Windows 2000 wouldnt be out in 1998—back when it was code-named Whistler.

And that delay must spell big trouble for the software vendor. Windows XP customers are mostly happy—and the security-oriented Service Pack (SP2) due later this year will most likely be a free upgrade.

However, the vast legions of Windows 98 customers show little evidence of budging off their venerable, but workable platform. About 20 percent of Windows desktops worldwide run 98, or the even older Windows 95.

You and I suffer more from these older desktops than their actual users do—Microsoft has cut back on security patches for its older operating systems, which leaves these systems more open to hacks, worms and zombie attacks.

But today, staring down the barrel of four more years without a meaningful Windows upgrade, Microsoft blinked. Or is in the process of blinking.

Microsoft revealed on Thursday that it is deciding on whether it might be better to release an interim version of Windows with a host of new features, capabilities, and (unlike SP2), a price tag. This interim release, whatever its form, is dubbed XP Reloaded.

Microsoft, it appears, wants to prime its Windows revenue pump between now and Longhorn.

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