Longhorn to Steal Limelight at WinHEC

Microsoft is on tap to distribute an alpha Longhorn build and reveal an updated Windows client roadmap at next week's show.

Microsofts annual Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) traditionally is all about the low-level Windows innards that help make computers tick. WinHEC 2004, which kicks off next Tuesday, will focus heavily on the guts of Longhorn, a version of Windows that wont be ready for at least a couple more years.

The time lag seemingly isnt deterring Microsoft from evangelizing its next-gen platform.

Microsoft is planning to distribute the first official alpha release of Longhorn at next weeks conference in Seattle. Its ReadMe notes, which describe a Longhorn build as "the preliminary release of Microsoft Windows Code Name Longhorn to be distributed at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference," leaked to the Web on Thursday.

(Microsoft distributed a "pre-alpha" release of Longhorn at the Professional Developers Conference last fall. The first full-fledged beta isnt due out until sometime in 2005.)

The company also is expected to unveil the system and driver requirements for Longhorn during the conference.

Microsoft is expected to recommend that the "average" Longhorn PC feature a dual-core CPU running at 4 to 6GHz; a minimum of 2 gigs of RAM; up to a terabyte of storage; a 1 Gbit, built-in, Ethernet-wired port and an 802.11g wireless link; and a graphics processor that runs three times faster than those on the market today.

Thats according to developer sources close to the company. Microsoft officials would not comment on the Longhorn reference implementation.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read about more twists and turns on the road to Longhorn.

At the same time, Microsoft is promising to provide WinHEC attendees with a bunch of new Longhorn development tools, including "preview" releases of the Windows Longhorn Development Kit, Windows Driver Framework and Driver Install Framework.

Jim Allchin, group vice president of Microsofts platforms unit, is slated to unveil a new and updated Windows client roadmap during his WinHEC keynote address.

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