This year has been a quiet one for Longhorn, the next version of Windows, although that situation is going to change, according to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Interviewed by Gartner analysts this week during the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2004 conference in Orlando, Florida, Ballmer said that the Longhorn wave of products--which will include new versions of Microsoft Office, Windows, and Windows Server, among other products--is finally on track.
  
Ballmer touched on one of the more controversial Longhorn topics--the recently delayed WinFS storage engine--and noted that progress is being made, "just not good enough for the 2006 \[Longhorn client\] delivery." Instead, WinFS will ship as a free Longhorn add-on a year later, when Longhorn Server ships.
  
Ballmer also touched on matters such as security, the future of Office, and the fact that Linux has yet to make any real inroads in the PC desktop market. But what Ballmer didn't deliver was a definitive product-delivery timeline. That's where WinInfo Daily UPDATE fills the gap.
  
According to recent internal schedules I've seen, Longhorn and Office 12 are set to arrive concurrently on May 22, 2006. And the first Longhorn beta is set for February 16, 2005--the same beta 1 date I first reported in April. Naturally, this schedule could change--we're talking about Microsoft, after all--but the massive Microsoft infrastructure finally seems to be rumbling to life. For beta testers and Windows enthusiasts, 2005 looks to be a busy year.