New Longhorn enhancements revealed as the first beta release nears

Here are some of the general statements Microsoft made about the performance enhancements that we can expect to see in Longhorn beta 1.

In the last issue of the Longhorn Report newsletter I told you that Microsoft has pumped Longhorn full of new and improved data and file management features that are destined to make everyday computing much easier. I also told you that Bill Gates alluded to the fact that more than half of all the new features and improvements in the new operating system are still secret.

Well, at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2005 event, which was held in Minneapolis the weekend of July 8-10, more information about certain Longhorn enhancements was revealed. However, this news has to be tempered with the fact that, in a bit of a smoke and mirrors move, Microsoft announced these new performance enhancements while at the same time revealed that the Aero Glass user interface and the new information visualization, organization, and search features will not be included in the first Longhorn beta. (Instead, these features won't appear in the operating system until the beta 2 release, which we won't see until early 2006.)

The good news is that the performance enhancements will be available for testing in beta 1, which, according to previous reports should be about one-third feature complete. While Microsoft was a bit vague about the actual technology behind these performance enhancements, they did reveal enough to help to build anticipation for beta 1 release the new operating system.

That said, let's take a look at some of the general statements Microsoft made about the performance enhancements that we can expect to see in Longhorn beta 1. We'll talk more about the actual technology behind these performance enhancements in upcoming issues after beta 1 has been released.

  • A computer running Longhorn will boot up 50 percent faster than it currently boots running Windows XP. Can you remember the sense of awe that you felt the first time you booted up Windows XP after years of booting up Windows 98?
  • Longhorn will be able to resume from Standby mode in 2 seconds. This enhancement is sure to be welcomed by anyone who has had a brilliant idea and rushed back to their PC to quickly jot down some notes only to find the system in standby mode and then having to endure an excruciatingly long wait before the system is usable again.
  • Longhorn will launch applications 15 percent faster than Windows XP. This enhancement will definitely improve users' efficiency. (I'll speculate that this enhancement is most likely the result of improvements made in the Prefetcher memory management component introduced in Windows XP.)
  • Longhorn will require 50 percent fewer reboots when applying patches to the operating system. This will make the process of keeping your operating system current much more palatable in that you won't have to stop working in order to apply the newest security patch and then have to wait for the system to restart before you can get back to work.
  • You'll be able to install Longhorn on a new system in 15 minutes. This one sounds almost too good to be true...
  • You'll be able to migrate an existing system to Longhorn 75 percent faster than you can migrate an existing system to Windows XP. This one's easier to imagine after seeing how efficient Windows XP's migration tools—File and Settings Transfer Wizard and the User State Migration Tool—are.

Again, it's important to keep in mind that you have to take this information with a grain of salt at this point, considering the fact that we're only just arriving at the beta 1 stage and the operating system is still in a state of flux. Furthermore, while Longhorn's purported release time frame is late 2006, Microsoft's Developer & Platform Evangelism Group corporate vice president, Sanjay Parthasarathy, was quoted as saying "Keep your fingers crossed for us" when asked about the release.

Other interesting Longhorn stuff

I recently encountered a Web site called Only4Gurus that contains a lot of information about Microsoft products. In the Windows Longhorn area, I discovered a series of concept videos that show how Microsoft envisions Longhorn's new technologies being applied in various industries to create a new class of connected applications. These videos are narrated by Carter Maslan from Microsoft's Platform Strategy and Partner Group.

Keep in mind that all of these videos are from 2004 and are a bit dated as far as recent Longhorn developments go. However, I found them very interesting and thought you would too.

As always, if you have ideas or information to share about Longhorn's new performance features or want to comment on any of the Longhorn concept videos, please take a moment to drop by the Discussion area and let us hear.

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About Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

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