Microsoft this week confirmed rumors that its next Windows release, code-named Longhorn, would be a desktop OS only, and not a synchronized release including both desktop and server versions as originally planned. Likewise, the Windows release following Longhorn, code-named Blackcomb, will be server-only. Microsoft did tell me, however, that while the company has not announced an official release date for Longhorn, the time table for its release hasn't changed, contrary to rumors. This means we'll see Longhorn in 2004 or 2005, depending on which Microsoft official you believe.

"Customer requirements dictate our release strategies and timing for Windows products," a Microsoft spokesperson told me late Monday. "Customers have asked that we map our server releases more closely to how they can consume and implement advances and innovations we deliver.  Given the deployment cycles and budgeting that customers work through, and given the significant customer interest in our upcoming release of Windows .NET Server 2003, we have determined that another major release of Windows Server in the Longhorn client timeframe does not meet the needs of most of our customers. Another major release of Windows Server will follow Windows .NET Server 2003; it is code named Blackcomb. We do not have a firm release date at this time, \[but\] Microsoft will determine a release timeframe based on what customers tell us they require."

Though details are still unclear, Longhorn will include a new 3D-based user interface with interactive video, a SQL Server-based file system called Windows Future Storage (WinFS), an MSN 8-like Start Menu addition called the Sidebar, and other interesting features. I'm currently updating by Longhorn Preview with information about the Longhorn alpha builds that recently leaked out of Microsoft. Stay tuned to the SuperSite for Windows for the update.