Gates Rounds Up Longhorn Plans

Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect kicked off this year's PDC gathering by describing new developer opportunities from the company's next generation of Windows technology.

LOS ANGELES—At Microsoft Corp.s Professional Developers Conference (PDC) 2003, Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates highlighted his companys vision for the next wave of software development in the Longhorn era.

Longhorn, the codename for the next major release of Windows, features a new programming model known as WinFX that promises to advance the opportunities for developers officials from the Redmond, Wash.-based software maker said. Microsoft officials said WinFX advances the Microsoft .Net Framework programming model.

"The opportunity for software developers is stronger this decade than any other," Gates said in his keynote presentation opening the conference here. "We believe in the next wave. Over the last four years Microsofts R&D budget has doubled." He said the companys budget for research and development was $6.8 billion for the last year.

Opportunities pushing the next wave on software development include the opportunity around web services interoperability, the continued growth of smart clients, and hardware and software innovation. The challenge will be to build connected systems using Web services, bringing information together and improving interactions between users.

To better enable developers to take advantage of these opportunities, Microsoft is providing three new technologies in Longhorn. One is a new Windows presentation system codenamed Avalon. Avalon is the graphics subsystem in Longhorn that features a unified architecture for presenting data, document and all forms of media, Gates said.

Hillel Cooperman, product unit manager for the Windows User Experience, joined Gates onstage for a demonstration of Avalon and showed elements of the system that included transparency, animations, and the use of pixel shaders and "other technology thats been typical of game developers," Cooperman said.

In addition, the Avalon sidebar in Longhorn shows such things as communications and services a user has in place, as well as other things like the time, buddy lists, slide shows and could even feature an RSS feed built right into the sidebar."

Longhorn also will feature WinFS, the next generation of data storage, which provides more security in and enables developers to tap pre-built data structures in applications they are working on.

And the third major technology in Longhorn is Indigo, Microsofts new Web services architecture, which integrates a variety of Microsofts distributed computing capabilities.

"What were doing with Indigo is making a subsystem underneath that does everything for you," said Jim Allchin, Microsoft group vice president of platforms. "There are programming models youre used to. It simplifies the building of services in a dramatic way."

However, to get to the new wave effectively, Microsoft first has to overcome such obstacles as spam and security. "Unless we can assume these problems are solved we cannot move forward," Gates said.

At the companys recent partner conference, Gates said Microsoft pledged to make its process of propagating security fixes more efficient and to improve its firewall technologies.


Meanwhile, hardware innovations are driving the new wave, in areas such as 64-bit technology and 64-way processing and the Next Generation Secure Computing Base.

"A PC in less than three years will be a pretty phenomenal device," Gates said.

He added, "Microsoft talks about this decade as the Digital Decade. " He said e-commerce required a new platform and the industry standard for that is Web services. "In this decade theres no doubt well see every form factor advance."

Gates said advanced Web services are making it easy to interoperate with disparate environments and mentioned the recent interoperability demonstration he did with Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive of IBM Corp.s Software Group.

In addition, Allchin said Microsoft is pushing a new declarative language for Avalon known as XAML, a declarative markup language in Longhorn. "XAML says, Lets do things in a declarative way, " Allchin said. "With XAML, youre able to separate the coding from the context."

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