Microsoft is to release to Australian developers next year betas of its new operating system, Longhorn, its next version of SQL Server, Yukon and Whidbey, the next version of Visual Studio.

With the software heavyweight slating a rough release date of 2006 for Longhorn, developers who attended the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles — as well as MSDN subscribers — were provided with access to “working preview” editions of forthcoming Microsoft releases.

However, the majority of Australian developers must wait for the first official betas to preview all the new releases. Sources have told ZDNet Australia   betas of Whidbey and Yukon will be available in early 2004, while developers will have to wait until later in the year for a broader release date of the Longhorn beta. The final versions of Whidbey and Yukon are slated for a late 2004 release, the sources said.

-Microsoft expects the Longhorn beta will be available next year. It would be correct to say that PDC attendees received Whidbey and Longhorn previews. Yukon and Whidbey betas will be available next year,” said Charles Sterling, Australia’s .NET Evangelist.

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates told delegates to the PDC he was keen to get developers’ feedback on the preliminary release of Longhorn.

-We want your involvement in telling us what we’ve got right with Longhorn, what we’ve got wrong with Longhorn,” said Gates.

-We’ve got years of work here and it’s going to be shaped by your involvement in the community activities,” he added. “And we’ve done a lot of new things, including the ways we’ve refined this event, getting our developers online, to really make sure that the community component drives Longhorn to be exactly what it should be”.

Sterling stressed that the previews given to conference developers were not official betas, but working previews designed to help educate developers on the next generation of Microsoft releases.

-If it is [for] education only then now is fine, but as with any early technology, Microsoft does not recommend deploying in production environments,” said Sterling.

-The key call to action is write managed code and web services today and you will be well positioned for the next generation of technology,” he added.

MSDN subscribers have access to the previews available to PDC delegates by calling their local MSDN centre

Developers who want to learn more about Longhorn can visit the new Longhorn Developer Center at

Brendon Chase attended the Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles as a guest of Microsoft.