Microsoft has synchronised development efforts for the client and server versions of Longhorn, the codename for the next Windows release.
"Today, the Longhorn client and the Longhorn server are tied together," Jim Allchin, vice president of Microsoft's platforms group, said in a keynote presentation at the company's annual Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) in Seattle.
The release of Longhorn is still some way off. Microsoft executives have pointed to 2006 as the release year for the product, but Allchin in his presentation did not give a target due date for the client or server version of the software.
Previously, after hedging about whether there would be a Longhorn server release at all, Microsoft said it would introduce the server some time after the client release.
Allchin did not clarify whether aligning development of the Longhorn client and server also means that the operating systems would be released simultaneously. Analysts with Directions on Microsoft said they still expected the server release to come after the client, since it will need additional testing.
A Microsoft spokeswoman later confirmed the analysts' expectations. "Even with synchronised development cycles, a major release of the Windows server and client will almost always ship with some time interval difference," the spokeswoman, although she added that how much difference is still being determined.
A first Longhorn beta is still planned for early next year, Allchin said. He also gave an overview of client and server software releases from Microsoft before the company gets to Longhorn.
On the server side, Microsoft this year will ship Windows Server 2003 64-bit Edition for Extended Systems; Windows Server 2003 Service Pack (SP) 1; Windows Small Business Server 2003 SP1; and Virtual Server 2005.
Next year's server road map offers a Windows Server 2003 Update; Windows Small Business Server 2003 Update; and a new Windows Storage Server, codenamed Storm.
On the client side, Microsoft is preparing to ship Windows XP SP 2 midyear. Other releases planned for this year include an updated Windows Media Player; Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005; Windows CE 5.0; Windows XP Media Center Edition with support for Media Center Extender; and Windows XP 64-Bit Edition for 64-Bit Extended Systems. Microsoft's hardware partners are also getting ready to ship Portable Windows Media Center devices.
Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service