Although Microsoft Corp. plans to move up the release date to 2006 of its Longhorn operating system and make changes to certain features of the software, some of its largest Canadian resellers say they have other things on their minds.
One reseller described Longhorn’s new features as desirable
but he complained the roll-out was so far off. “”We’re talking eight business quarters, right?”” said Todd Irie, director of market management at NexInnovations Inc. in Mississauga, Ont.
Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft said it’s releasing Longhorn a year earlier than scheduled because computer manufacturers had been pushing for a new version following the 2001 debut of Windows XP.
Microsoft, which has been busy completing Service Pack 2 security updates to Windows XP, had been forced to push forward the release of its latest operating system.
Under its new plans, Microsoft will debut a Windows storage subsystem called WinFS after the release of Longhorn.
The system, which the company said provides advanced data organization and management capabilities, will be in beta testing when Longhorn arrives.
WinFX developer technologies, including a new presentation subsystem code-named Avalon, and a new communication subsystem known as Indigo, will be part of the Longhorn client, but also available in 2006 for Microsoft Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.
Irie said he was more focused on addressing the issues of the “”here and the now,”” operational efficiencies that it is working on with customers.
Although NexInnovations looks at emerging software products, “”where the efforts are really going to pay off both for the customer and partner are things such as migrating off of older technologies (like previous Windows versions and desktops) and taking a hard look at Service Pack 2,”” said Irie.
Service Pack Part 2
Irie added even though some are overplaying “”the latest and the greatest, I think customers are a lot more mature in the way that they look at technology.””
Harry Zarek, president of Compugen Inc. of Toronto, said most companies are preoccupied with XP and Service Pack 2 and believes it will take some time to integrate them into Compugen’s installed base.
For instance, when SP2 was recently announced, Microsoft encouraged customers to invoke the automatic update feature, he said. “”Certainly in corporate accounts, they don’t want people to go out and update automatically because they still have to test that update against their applications to make sure it doesn’t break anything.””
At the moment, 30 per cent to 40 per cent of enterprise accounts are still using Windows NT and different versions of Windows 9x, which are a few versions behind, and have not even upgraded to Windows Professional on the desktop, Zarek explained.
Zarek predicted it will be six months to a year before a majority of corporate accounts move to Windows 2000 or Windows XP. “”Laggard customers”” will have converted to those operating systems in another year, which he said is when it will make more sense to have a meaningful conversation about Longhorn.
Moreover, the fact that Microsoft has had a history of reneging on announcement dates may instill some doubt in customers that the 2006 shipping date will be respected, he added.
“”In that context, Longhorn is what I call long future. (It’s) not something that people are going to get too concerned about one way or the other.””
Microsoft said it will revise some of the key features of its next-generation operating system, but experts said those changes may ease its introduction into the marketplace.
The main reason Microsoft is now giving for these changes is it wants to meet its 2006 deadline for a final product.
“”It’s important Microsoft releases Longhorn within the timeframe they had set out,”” said Dave Senf, analyst at IDC Canada Ltd.
Microsoft needs to provide a product in order to forestall the advance of Linux and Java on the desktop, he said, particularly with Sun Microsystems Inc. opening portions of Java to the developer community.
Ryan Groom, the founder and CEO of Fredericton-based CyberSecure, agreed.
“”One of the most exciting features was the ability to search meta data, which is really important, because hard drives and data repositories are getting so big that data’s everywhere in many,”” he said, “”you’re going to talk to your computer. It doesn’t happen. Pen recognition isn’t really there yet. There’s a lot of things that they’ve promised that aren’t there.””
The open source community is still hoping to see desktop versions of Linux enter the corporate enterprise, but vendors say Microsoft’s decision to make major changes to the next version of Windows will do little to help their cause.
Open source pioneer Bruce Perens and several other organizations formed the non-profit Desktop Linux Consortium (DLC) to promote education and adoption of the technology. DLC spokeswoman Jill Ratkevic acknowledged that Microsoft’s decisions about Longhorn could allow Linux some time to gain more of a foothold in the enterprise desktop space, but she said no one really benefits from enhancements that don’t make it out the door.
“”Nobody wants Linux to fill a hole in the market because Microsoft couldn’t keep to its schedule,”” she said. “”The idea is to be a level competitor.””
With files from Shane Schick and Neil Sutton.