Windows Vista Will Be an Important Measure

The OS formerly known as Longhorn is expected out in beta Aug. 3, and Microsoft has a job on its hands trying to inspire widespread migration.

The wait for Microsofts next major operating system continues, and the question of how eager customers are to upgrade is unsettled, but its official name has been released.

As reported in Ziff Davis Internets Microsoft Watch, Microsoft announced Friday that it would replace the code-name Longhorn with the proper name Windows Vista.

The announcement, made at an Atlanta Microsoft sales rally called the Microsoft Global Sales Briefing, comes with few details that have not yet been revealed.

Microsoft has committed to release the Beta 1 version of Vista to developers and selected corporate customers on Aug. 3.

The company posted a video of the announcement at a new Web site that is devoted to the new operating system, but it contains no new information.

Microsoft has also reiterated the "three pillars" of Longhorn—the three basic design goals whose benefits Microsoft execs hope will justify widespread corporate upgrades from Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and even Windows 2000.

/zimages/6/28571.gifMicrosoft gets specific about the improvements that Windows Vista will deliver. Click here to read more.

The three pillars have actually morphed a bit over time. WinFS, an advanced filing system that was to have provided lightning-quick search, fell by the wayside as Microsoft searched for ways to guarantee a 2006 ship date.

It also de-emphasized the .Net framework, which was to have been built into the core of the OS, making it an optional set of functions for software running on top of Vista.

Microsoft has, however, built in more efficient search, richer scripting, graphics and windows-presentation capabilities and a more capable communications subsystem that will enable Vista machines to connect with a variety of non-PC devices.

Microsoft will also, reportedly, release the Beta 1 version of Internet Explorer 7.0 at the same time it ships the Vista client and server betas.

Being able to ship even a definitive beta is extremely important for Microsofts continued financial well-being, according to Jonathan Eunice, president of Nashua, N.H.-based consultancy Illuminata Inc.

Microsofts goals for the OS are laudable, and the name is "aspirational" enough to match Microsofts usual optimism. But "they desperately need to encourage people and corporations to upgrade," Eunice said. "They have been having a huge problem with that in recent years, getting people to move either to new versions of Windows or of the apps like Office."

But long before Longhorn ever came out as code, user concerns about it were bouncing around Microsoft support forums and user groups.

For example, Microsoft plans to embed an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) platform to automatically distribute feeds into Windows applications, both its own and those from developers.

That plan has many potential customers concerned that building RSS into the core of Vista would present an irresistible opportunity for hackers.

Others are concerned about compatibility problems, such as those that cropped up with the SP2 patch kit, will be greater than they can afford to fix.

Next Page: Wall Street will be watching Vista sales.