While Microsoft (Profile, Products, Articles) continues raising Longhorn, rivals are seizing the operating system's extended adolescence to develop competing feature sets of their own. The already scaled-back version of Longhorn is still roughly 18 months from shipping, and with the expected technical advances by Linux competitors during that time, Microsoft's estimable industry influence to sell the product as currently constituted will be severely tested.
Even with the much anticipated WinFS file system chopped out and sent back to its ostensibly eternal beta cycle, Microsoft believes the remaining technology goodies in the Longhorn bag will compel many business users and consumers to upgrade. Microsoft, indeed, has put considerable resources into the Avalon graphics subsystem and Indigo technology for connecting subsystems via Web services. In addition to Avalon and Indigo, the first release of Longhorn is expected to have new information management tools including a built-in desktop search capability, management tools designed to significantly reduce deployments costs (including capabilities for image creation, editing and installation), and better all around reliability through a diagnostic infrastructure that detects and fixes problems faster.
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News source: InfoWorld