Microsoft sheds light on Longhorn

Von Sean Bacher

A lot has been said about Microsoft?s eagerly awaited Longhorn operating system (OS), which is due to be released in 2006. Although the details are still rather scant, Jonathan Hatchuel, business group manager for the Windows Client at Microsoft SA, sheds a little light on what users can expect.

?With the release of Longhorn we plan on addressing three main areas, namely cost, productivity and security,? says Hatchuel.

?We found that in the past companies were spending vast amounts of their IT budgets on issues such as patch deployment,? he says. ?Not only did these patch deployments affect companies financially, but also through the amount of man-hours spent deploying the patch throughout the enterprise.?

?With Longhorn we hope to drive down these costs, by including software that automates and simplifies patch deployments across companies of any size,? he adds.

Longhorn is also said to include the ability for an administrator to pre-configure the operating system before installing it. ?In previous Windows versions the administrator would first install the operating system, then tweak it. The administrator can now do all this before the installation occurs,? continues Hatchuel.

?As I see it, security is one of the most important aspects of any operating system today,? comments Hatchuel. ?Microsoft has been working on ways to better secure PCs, and is continually finding new ways to secure user?s systems.?

Longhorn is said to include features such as a more virtualized operating system. ?With more of the operating system being virtualized, should an application crash, it will not affect the performance of the OS at all.?

According to the company, once Longhorn has been installed on a PC, it will automatically block all incoming and outgoing network traffic until the machine has the latest security fixes installed.

Longhorn will also make it easier for a user to perform basic admin tasks. ?Typically, if a user wanted to perform a mundane task such as install a program, that user would have to call an administrator with adequate permissions to come and install the application,? Hatchuel adds. However, Longhorn will provide the user with an administrator prompt and, once the correct details are entered, will allow the user to perform only that function.

According to research done by Microsoft, 30 percent of a user?s day is spent finding documents and data located on his or her PC. ?Longhorn includes an advanced search engine that allows the user to search e-mails, documents, applications and utilities,? adds Hatchuel.

Longhorn will enter its beta 1 testing phase towards the end of this month. Microsoft says it will not stop supporting existing Windows versions, such as XP, once Longhorn hits the streets.