Longhorn Looks Promising

Back when Windows XP was still known by the code name Whistler, the most exciting thing about Microsoft Corp.'s client OS-in-progress was that it wasn't Windows 9x. But now that Windows users can take for granted such basics as real multiuser support and relative freedom from blue screens of death, it will take a lot more than making Windows a less-hated part of one's workday to spur enthusiasm for Longhorn, the code name for Microsoft's next client OS release. At the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles yesterday, we got our first look at Longhorn: With its dramatically remade presentation, storage and communications systems, Longhorn should give Windows users and developers plenty to be excited about. eWEEK Labs tested Build 4051 of Longhorn, which PDC attendees received along with a raft of software preview disks.

We installed Longhorn on a 900MHz Pentium M laptop with 256MB of RAM. Installation seemed to go faster than we're accustomed to seeing with Windows XP, and we found Longhorn's partitioning tools more capable and usable than those in XP. While our test system met the minimum requirements listed on the software's sleeve—256MB—we recommend testing this build on a system with considerably more RAM. Longhorn is still two years from release, and, at this point, it's not built for speed. During tests, the hard drive in our test system thrashed almost constantly, swapping data in from its page file. We found that one of the most interesting aspects of Longhorn is its use of the Windows Future Store, or WinFS, which exists as a layer atop NTFS for enabling SQL-type queries of data on the local file system. This capability is roughly akin to what Be Inc.'s BeOS offered several years ago, and will allow users to perform broad and detailed searches for data on their systems in ways that are not possible in current Windows systems. Longhorn ships with schemas for ordering certain types of data, such as contacts, documents and pictures, and developers will be able to extend this capability for other sorts of applications and data.

News source: eWeek

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