What happened to Longhorn?

Well, that was an exciting announcement.  There’s a good CNET interview with BillG that provides insight into the decision.  Here’s my perspective on what happened

We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from customers about WinFX.  Among the things we heard:

  • Indigo is great, but I need to use the same communications API for all my apps, whether they’re LH, XP or Server.  Don’t make me use Indigo for LH and WSE for XP.
  • Avalon is great, but I don’t want to have to build a separate WinForms UI for my XP apps and then some different Avalon UI for LH
  • It will be a while before the majority of our customers are running LH on their desktops.
  • I wish I had WinFX for the app I’m building today!

So we listened, and did some thinking.  We concluded we could meet the bulk of our customer needs by releasing WinFX as quickly as possible, supporting XP and Server 2003.

We also recognized that doing this would likely delay parts of WinFX that were planning on taking advantage of new features in LH (like WinFS...more to come on the subject in the next post,) but the value in releasing a subset of the original LH vision as quickly and broadly as possible outweighed the cost of deferring the full implementation

The upside to this plan is huge.  Avalon and Indigo available on XP?  And in 2006?  That’s really just fantastic news.  I can tell you that I am certainly excited about no longer having to speculate on when we’d have enough Longhorn desktops to justify taking a dependency on WinFX.

Comments (15)
  1. Sufy says:

    hey i don’t exactly know what crap this one is talking about? i just wanted to check out when the hell will be another version of windows be released? don’t u people offer something for home users and simple students? we are sick of using xp professional.

  2. Wasn’t Indigo planned to be released way ahead of 2006 for XP/2003 anyway?

  3. Jeff says:

    One things I don’t exactly understand….if the Longhorn client won’t come with WinFS, Indigo or Avalon….what does it come with?

  4. With Whidbey already late, how can you expect to have Orcas out by 2006?

    As far as I can tell, Avalon is rather useless without designer support. To be honest, I have no clue how people are so thrilled to be writing dialog templates by hand in xml. The tech is great and it’s nice to see how it works under the hood, but we’re not expected to actually *use* it that way, right??

    Anyway, I’m happy with the decision. WinFS was the least exciting Longhorn technology in my mind (probably because I don’t get it :)) and having the others on XP means I can start using them that much sooner.

  5. Wil says:

    If Avalon and Indigo will both be released for XP, then just what do you get with Longhorn, and why would you want to buy it rather than just "upgrading" XP with the new add-ons?

  6. Jeremy says:

    Sufy, what about XP are you not finding to your satisfaction?

  7. Jeremy says:

    Jeff, Will — I don’t think anyone has announced yet what specifically will be in the Windows Longhorn release. At some point there will be a beta, and you can evaluate for yourself whether there are enough new changes to merit upgrading from XP. I’m going to stay focused on making sure WinFX is as compelling as possible, and I’ll leave it to the Windows team to make sure the LH user experience and management features are similarly compelling.

  8. Jeremy says:


    I don’t think anyone talked about Orcas in ’06, where did you see a reference to that?

    You are right that Avalon needs a great set of tools, and we are working hard to make sure that happens. But XAML as a persistence format is exciting because it’s declarative code that’s readable by a machine or a human. And when you combine XAML with the Avalon composable UI elements, you can come up with some pretty sophisticated UI in just a few lines of XAML.

    As far as WinFS goes, I wrote up a few scenarios that show why I’m excited about WinFS back in February, see the links at


  9. Phil says:

    The four items you mentioned in your list seem pretty obvious to me. I’ve been wondering the same thing ever since Indigo/WinFX was announced.

  10. Wil says:

    At http://www.infoworld.com/article/04/09/03/36NNlonghorn_1.html there is the following quote from MS lead product manager Greg Sullivan: "’In 2006, if I am running Longhorn on my machine and you’re running XP with Avalon and Indigo on yours, you’re going to look at my machine, and you will want mine,’ he said." So will Avalon and Indigo be dogs when running on XP? Trying to fit square pegs into round holes, etc. So maybe the announcement of XP availability is less significant than it seems, if in fact no one will want to install them there.

  11. Brian Weeres says:

    I can certainly appreciate the power of XAML and being readable by machine and human, etc. but the reason I switched from Borland C++ 10 years ago to Visual C++ 1.0 was because of the Visual part. Whether or not XAML is more powerful and sophisticated isn’t really the point. Will I be able to develop my windows as fast or faster than I can now? Will it help me solve my clients business problems? Those are my concerns.

  12. Hi Wil – the comments I made to Infoworld were in the broader context of a question about what will be unique about Longhorn given the recent announcements. My comments should not be read as dissing Avalon and Indigo on XP – rather that there will be many things about Longhorn that will make it a compelling release. Thx.

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