Microsoft has said it will sacrifice some key features it had planned for Longhorn so it can deliver the successor to Windows XP in 2006.
The next Windows release will not ship with the WinFS unified storage system, one of the three key components of Longhorn, as outlined by Microsoft at its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in October last year.
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"We do have an ambitious vision for the future of Windows. Today's announcements reflect a change in how we reach that vision in a way we think that will be good for enterprise customers and developers in particular," said Greg Sullivan, a lead product manager at Microsoft.
In April, Microsoft said it was clipping some minor features in Longhorn in order to get a beta version out next year, but that the product would still have all the major components it discussed at PDC, including WinFS.
But after several delays in the development of Longhorn, the operating system is now looking more like an evolutionary release of Windows instead of the "big bang" revolution the software maker made it out to be.
"We've had to make some trade-offs to deliver the features corporate customers, consumers and OEMs are asking for in a reasonable time frame," said Jim Allchin, group vice-president of Microsoft's Platforms Group.
Microsoft now plans to deliver WinFS after it releases Longhorn as an update to the operating system, Sullivan said. The storage system will be in beta testing when Longhorn becomes available in 2006, he said.
WinFS is built on top of the existing Windows NTFS and uses relational engine technology from Microsoft's forthcoming SQL Server 2005 database. The storage system promises to make it easier for users to find documents and e-mail messages, for example, by tagging those with XML metadata.
Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service