The company said it expects to release a test of Windows Vista Beta 1, targeted at developers and IT professionals, by August 3rd. But expectations are that it could leak out sooner. In a video announcement broadcast online this morning, the company said Longhorn, the codename for the past couple of years for the beta, has been put out to pasture.
According to the company's Website, Vista is expected to arrive in 2006, a time frame analysts and company-watchers have long questioned since key features in Longhorn have been delayed or nixed since it was first unveiled in 2003.
The Vista name suggests that graphics and presentation are slated as major improvements to the operating system that runs more than 90 percent of the world's computers. With a tagline that reads, "Bringing clarity to your world," Microsoft's Vista is designed to introduce "clear ways to organize and use information the way you want to use it."
Indeed, the Avalon graphics subsystem, which enables users to easily organize, match and move around multimedia files such as video, audio and images, represents a major new look and feel to Windows, compared to the media management tools in XP. Avalon is part of the Visual Studio 2005 developer platform, code-named Whidbey, which is also getting a look-see from developers.
In April, released the second beta of Visual Studio 2005, .NET Framework 2.0 beta 2, and the April Community Technology Preview (CTP) of SQL Server 2005.
Expect to see a developer platform integrated with Microsoft's SQL Server 2005, highlighting Microsoft's commitment to tying application development to back-end infrastructure.
The name change also thrusts the next version of Windows into a brighter spotlight ahead of Microsoft's Professional Developer's Conference in September, where developers will be able to dig even deeper into the latest Vista build after next week's beta test release.
The next-generation operating system was originally announced in 2001, and officially unveiled at its 2003 developers' conference. Since then, Longhorn, now Vista, has faced numerous delays, with developers scaling back some of its features in order to help get it out the door within the 2006 release year.
It is expected to have a number of improvements over the current Windows platform however. Microsoft has been focusing on security and interoperability.