Platform Push

8/27/2004 2:15:15 PM

Platform Push

Microsoft Watch is reporting two new developments, which may be announced by Microsoft possibly this afternoon, so that Longhorn can reach consumers by 2006.

  • WinFS may be delayed after Longhorn.
  • Avalon may be decoupled from Longhorn and available for Windows XP.

WinFS has been a major risk factor because of its sluggish performance, even as late as the WinHEC build, so I am not surprised to see that it may delayed, though I am a bit sadden.

I believe the Avalon strategy shift is plausible. It's been reported and, I have also experienced it myself, that Avalon applications CAN, in fact, currently run under Windows XP, if you install Whidbey and copy over the system dlls from Longhorn to a Windows XP. Joel, earlier, saw no reason in his famous API Wars article why Avalon only had to be available just on Longhorn. In contrast, Indigo was always available for all supported versions of Windows, at least since last fall.

However, I still prefer that all these technologies should be introduced and made exclusive into Longhorn, because of the enormous benefits a comprehensive base platform provides. By requiring an upgrade, Longhorn would cause a mass shift to a new platform and offer developers a new minimum level of operating system functionality, a la Windows 95. In addition, mass platform migration provides several advantages for developer.

  • compact downloads. Applications no longer would need to be distributed with megabytes of systems DLL. The uncertainty of whether the user has the latest system libraries complicates the software installation process and delays product development.

    Windows 95 integrated a number of previously redistributable technologies, when it came out, such as the Win32 API set (available to Windows 3.X as Win32S and accessible only on NT), the TCP stack, the OLE 2.0 libraries, the 3D common control libraries (COMCTL32.DLL), OpenGL, MFC 4.2, TrueType, and so on.

    Longhorn will, integrate out of the box previously redistributable technologies as well, such as a third-generation managed .NET runtime, various AI technologies (ink, speech, and natural language), latest iterations of existing APIs (DirectX v9 and so on)--not to mention, Indigo, which is currently decoupled.

  • simplified installation. Applications can take advantage of the simplified web-based deployment model that ships out-of-the-box in Longhorn. Windows 95 simplified installation with AutoPlay and Add/Remove. However, Longhorn allows for easier more automated installation (especially as a non-administrator), code-access security, and other smart client features like dynamic updates.

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Net Undocumented is a blog about the internals of .NET including Xamarin implementations. Other topics include managed and web languages (C#, C++, Javascript), computer science theory, software engineering and software entrepreneurship.

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