Longhorn Delay Stirs Dismay, Delight in Developers

While many applaud the timely release of Avalon and Indigo and Microsoft's decision to "stop dreaming and wake up," others warn the company that it is eroding its credibility and letting Linux make usability gains.

Developer reaction to Microsofts decision to hold off on delivering planned parts of the next release of Windows Longhorn to meet the 2006 deadline has been mixed, with many calling it a prudent move and others outright upset by the decision.

Microsoft Corp. on Friday announced it would be making key elements of the Windows WinFX developer platform in Longhorn available for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Microsoft will deliver the WinFS Windows storage subsystem after the release of Longhorn, the company said.

Meanwhile, Microsoft will be delivering its new presentation subsystem, code-named Avalon, and the new communication subsystem, code-named Indigo, for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 in 2006, the company said.

/zimages/3/28571.gifRead more here about Microsofts decision to gut Longhorn in order to meet the 2006 deadline.

Andrew Brust, president of N.Y.-based Progressive Systems Consulting Inc., said he saw benefits in the changes. "My immediate reaction is that nobody likes pullback announcements, but I do see the following positives: XP/2003 will get Indigo and Avalon; Longhorns schedule stays on track, along with its enhanced security, search and many UI [user interface] features," he said.

"As a developer, Im more focused on things like Whidbey [Visual Studio 2005] and Yukon [SQL Server 2005], and their schedules are unaffected by this announcement," Brust said. "Id rather see something stable and on-schedule than something thats feature-rich for its own sake, unreliable and late," Brust said.

"My biggest regret is the perception that many will have that this is a failure, when I see it as a sensible redirection," he said. "Perhaps Microsoft has that coming to them after all the Longhorn messaging at PDC [Professional Developers Conference], but Id rather see them make a sober decision than stick by 2003 messaging out of stubbornness."

Stephen Forte, chief technology officer at N.Y.-based Corzen Inc., said splitting up the project brings deadlines into clearer focus. "I think that breaking up the large project into smaller projects is a good thing," he said. "Its pretty awesome that we will get Avalon and Indigo for Win XP and Win 2003. Also, Microsoft has said Longhorn will ship in 2006, so it is good to know the dates, etc."

Brad McCabe, a senior solutions architect at Ajilon Consulting Inc., based in Baltimore, said the decision makes good business sense. "While I would love to see all of the original Longhorn technology come out from a technologist point of view, from a business point of view, I am glad that some of it will be stripped out," McCabe said. "While sometimes you need revolutionary steps to move the industry forward, it is painful, expensive and time-consuming to implement in an organization.

"The more changes, the more legacy applications that break, the more code that has to be modified and the more testing that needs to be performed," he said. "This could be a good thing for developers because by making it a smaller upgrade, corporations might be fast on the uptake of the release."

/zimages/3/28571.gifLonghorn chief Jim Allchin wrote a memo to Microsoft employees defending the Longhorn cuts. Click here to read more.

Meanwhile, a developer who requested anonymity said, "The hype machine finally meets reality," and called the news a mixture of good and bad. "Good: focus on the here and now, security issues, SP2 was more than a wake-up call."

But the developer called the announcement "bad per trust issues—yet another retreat, after promising developer upon developer no retreats. Imagine if this was GM [General Motors]—promise a super-car, deliver a Yugo; why, theyd be bankrupt."

Next Page: How does "Little Steer" reflect on Microsofts OS future?