Open-Source Backers Ready Longhorn Defense

Even though Longhorn is still two-plus years away, the open-source community can't afford to wait to build comparable technologies, advocates say.

The open-source development community is looking to head off Microsoft Longhorn before it escapes the Redmond corral.

Some key members of the community recently met to discuss ways the open-source movement can prepare for Longhorn, the next major version of Windows that is expected to debut on the desktop in 2006.

According to the minutes posted to the Web from an April 21 meeting involving members of the Gnome Foundation and the Mozilla Foundation teams, Longhorns Avalon and XAML technologies appear to be the most potentially worrisome for the open-source community.

/zimages/1/28571.gifBob Muglia, senior vice president of Microsofts server division, recently described the companys strategy for Longhorn. Click here to read more.

Avalon is the code name for the presentation subsystem that Microsoft is building to be part of Longhorn. XAML is the Extensible Application Markup Language that is tightly integrated with Avalon and will be the primary vehicle for writing Avalon applications.

But Avalon isnt the open-source movements only challenge. The other key pillars of Longhorn—the Indigo communications subsystem and the WinFS file system—also are looming. And the open-source community is working through some strategies with how best to deal with those elements, from a competitive standpoint, as well.

Avalon and XAML will be formidable competitors, acknowledged Miguel de Icaza, one of the founders of Ximian and now chief technology officer for the Novell Ximian Services business unit. (Novell acquired Linux-desktop-pioneer Ximian in August 2003.)

"XAML plus Avalon plus security plus integration into [Internet Explorer] is what worries me," de Icaza told Microsoft Watch. "This is the final take over the Web.

According to the April 21 meeting notes, Gnome co-founder Nat Friedman suggested that open-source vendors look into the possibilities of cloning XAML, as well as possibly building an Avalon competitor consisting of open-source components. Candidates for this collection include the GIMP-based GTK+, a library for creating graphical user interfaces for the X Window System, and the XML User Interface Language developed by Mozilla.

"We need to slow the upgrade to Longhorn, and since that is relatively costly to businesses, if we can make cross-platform applications work well, there is an opportunity for Linux migration," Friedman said, according to the meeting notes.

"If were going to be competitive, we need to follow the open- source, de facto standard route, that were all working on, rather than being bogged down with the standards process," he added.

/zimages/1/28571.gifTo read the full story, click here.