Microsoft's (Bumpy) Road to Longhorn

Microsoft's product roadmap for Longhorn has some potholes to navigate in the coming two years, according to research firm Directions on Microsoft. In a new report, the Kirkland, Wash.-based research firm said Microsoft is facing a "product gap" over the next two years without a major new release regarding its flagship Windows operating system and Office productivity suite. That's great news for Microsoft "Microsoft is entering a two-to-three year valley in which it has neither a new version of Windows nor a new Office suite to sell," Helm said. He said this "product gap" will hit the company's sales and profits, because the two flagship products, Windows and Office, account for a huge piece of its total business.

The next version of Microsoft's OS, code named Longhorn, is expected in late 2005 or early 2006, with the next server OS release 18 months later. Longhorn will include a new graphics system, now called Avalon; a messaging protocol, which is code named Indigo, and WinFS, which enhances the NTFS (define) file system with technology from SQL Server and Windows SharePoint Services.

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