Microsoft Readying Avalon Framework for Longhorn

New API framework, code-named Avalon, will be at the crux of Longhorn's new information-access architecture.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has promised for years how Windows will allow consumers to access "information at your fingertips."

With Longhorn, the next version of Windows due out in 2005, the company will take its first serious stab at delivering on Gates vision. And a new application programming interface (API) framework, code-named Avalon, will be at the core of Longhorns new information-access architecture, according to sources.

Avalon is the key to the new "inductive" user interface that will debut in Longhorn, sources say. The new UI will allow users to organize and share information more intuitively, most likely using some kind of "dock," a la Microsoft Office XP, sources say.

"The big thing about Longhorn is the apparent new way of organizing data," says one developer working with Microsoft, who requested anonymity. Avalon is the developer framework that will enable this, he says.

"Longhorn is supposed to introduce users to the concept of an information environment. There is so much data out there now that people are swamped by it. My understanding of Avalon is that Microsoft wants to create a framework in which developers can tie into this to extend their information environment to have more features," the developer adds.

In such an information environment, files would no longer be displayed on their physical location but instead could be organized by context or in some other way set by users and/or administrators.

"This could really transform the way people work with their computers," the developer says.

Other sources describe Avalon as a layer of plumbing that will extend the existing Win32 development platform at the heart of Windows by building in support for the Longhorn networking, storage, digital-rights-management and graphics enhancements that Microsoft plans to build into Longhorn, say sources.

Avalon wont debut until 2005, which is the most recent target date that Microsoft has slapped on Longhorn. Until two weeks ago, Microsoft was talking about Longhorn shipping in 2004. Earlier this year, Microsoft officials said Longhorn was due in 2003.

Microsoft officials declined to comment on Avalon.

Get more Microsoft scoops with Microsoft Watch. Click here for your 14-day free trial!