The Grand Old Duke of York is clearly in charge of Microsoft's operating systems roadmaps for, having marched Longhorn up to the top of a distant (2005, said his Billness) hill earlier this year, he has now marched it straight back down again. Longhorn, the next version of Windows XP, will not after all be a 2005 product, but will quite possibly be a next year product after all.
Which would suggest it's been pulled out of the 'hard megaproject' category (never mind, Bill already got the glowing write-up in Fortune) and moved over into the 'easy-ish rev' one. This possible revelation comes in Mary-Jo's latest in eWeek, but you'll have to parse the Delphic quotes to figure out the signposts.
"Given the deployment cycles and budgeting that customers work through," said a spokeswoman, "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."
Now, with .NET Server 2003 due in early 2003, if Microsoft is syncing its server and client OS release dates (yes, we know, if it really is doing this why is it .NET Server 2003, but Microsoft has been 'officially' syncing them, even though it isn't doing it really) then it ought to have another rev of .NET Server out at the same time as Longhorn.
Or it ought to mean to, anyway. But if you look again at what the spokeswoman said first, she's citing customers, which with .NET Server would be big customers. Microsoft has been coming under pressure from these to produce more accurate roadmaps, and it does seem to be trying to do so. So, simply saying you're going to do something then not doing it really isn't an option.
Now, she also says there'll be a major Server release, which will presumably be Blackcomb, to follow .NET Server 2003. So no major server release with Longhorn, but major server release to follow the next server release. Which means Longhorn is earlier, but is client-only. And if it is a 2003 product, then all of the people who said Microsoft was only kidding earlier this year will turn out to have been right. ®