Truth Time for Microsoft at PDC

Microsoft Professional Developers Conference is the time for Redmond to come clean about its Longhorn plans.
Microsoft has been talking about Longhorn, the next generation of Windows, since its last Professional Developers Conference in 2003. At PDC 2005, to be held Tuesday through Friday in Los Angeles, it's time to talk turkey.

''Microsoft has to give us a good idea of when this stuff really will be delivered,'' said Directions on Microsoft analyst Michael Cherry. ''The Windows Vista beta is not functionally complete. That's a lot of work to get finished in a year.''

Microsoft has said it would deliver the Longhorn client, now known as Windows Vista, in 2006. Some features have been cut.

''They have to either convince us they won't cut more features and still make that ship date, or ship late,'' Cherry said. ''But something's gotta give.''

Microsoft must move forward with its Windows/Office strategy, as it tries to adjust to two competing trends: the Web as a platform and software-on-demand.

For at least three years, Microsoft has put a lot of eggs in Longhorn's basket.

The client, now known as Windows Vista, will be ''richer'' than ever. It's designed to act as the interface to Microsoft's business collaboration tools, such as BizTalk Server and Visual Studio Team System, as well as to a variety of third-party applications.

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