Microsoft declines to specify on Longhorn launch date

Microsoft's chief financial officer, John Connors, talked up the "innovative pipeline" that will ensure that new products and technology keep rolling out through future years.

But "future" was the key word at the annual financial analyst meeting when it came to the next major version of Windows. Microsoft did not provide the final ship date for the release of Longhorn. "We've made really good progress in the last year. The next milestone for us is getting the beta out sometime next year and that'll be the point at which the feature set and the schedule will really be pretty much locked down," said Bill Gates, Microsoft's chief software architect.

"It's a release that's driven by the breakthrough features, and we'll have a strong sense of exactly what gets in and what the schedule looks like as we get that beta out sometime in the next ... well, next year sometime." Gates did not say the beta would be released in the first half of next year, as the company had been saying prior to last week. If the beta should slip to the second half of the year, that could have a snowballing effect on the final ship date and potentially push the product beyond the 2006 target that the company has bandied about.

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