The Windows Vista timeline

While waiting until sometime in the first half of 2007 for the release of Windows Vista seems like a long time to wait, it's really a small chunk of time when you step back and realize how long we've actually been waiting for this new operating system.

It looks like Microsoft will indeed release Beta 2 of Windows Vista at its annual Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC), which is scheduled for May 22-25. That means that by next week we should have our hands on what Microsoft has been promising to be the best look so far at what the company envisions Windows Vista will be when it is released sometime in 2007. As I began planning this edition of the Windows Vista Report, I began to look back at how long we've been anticipating Windows XP's successor and came to the conclusion that it goes all the way back to 2001. To corroborate my recollections, I paid a visit to Google as well as the archives of Microsoft's PressPass site to see what I could dig up. Let's take a look.


Microsoft first started talking about a new operating system code named Longhorn in July of 2001, about three months before the actual release of Windows XP. Here's the introduction from an article titled "Windows Longhorn To Succeed XP?" that appeared on the BetaNews site on July 24, 2001:

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In a surprise change to its Windows strategy, Microsoft is considering pushing back the release of Blackcomb, and instead following up Windows XP with an interim operating system currently dubbed 'Longhorn'. First reported by eWeek, Longhorn will not contain the .NET-centric core the software giant had planned for the next version of Windows. Blackcomb was initially slated for a late 2002 release, but Microsoft officials now concede even Longhorn may not hit that mark.


In July of 2002, Bill Gates began touting Longhorn as a significant breakthrough in the Windows operating system. Even back then, there was speculation that such an endeavor would have schedule problems. In an article titled "A Fork in the Road to Longhorn?" that appeared on the Direction On Microsoft site on October 21, 2002, details about these events was revealed:

Microsoft has not yet shipped Windows .NET Server, but that has not stopped senior executives from publicly describing a future Windows release, code-named Longhorn. While its features haven't been totally defined, Longhorn entails a redesign of major parts of Windows, including the file and graphics systems. As a consequence, customers and partners trying to plan around the Windows release schedule should be careful about betting on what Longhorn will be and when it will arrive, and anticipate the possibility of an interim Windows release in late 2004 or early 2005.


At the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference on October 27, 2003 Bill Gates kicked off his Keynote by dubbing the event the "Longhorn PDC." About mid way in the speech, Gates introduced the first live demonstration of Longhorn and we were all stunned by what we saw on the screen. A transcript of that speech as well as the demonstration is available on the Microsoft's PressPass site. Here are some excerpts:

Thank you.  Well, welcome to the "Longhorn" PDC.  We've been looking forward to this event for a long time.

Over the last four years Microsoft's R&D budget has more than doubled, and that budget is focused on the things you're going to hear about today.  It's focused on making "Longhorn" real, and all the milestones that get us to that point.

This is going to be a very big release — the biggest release of this decade, the biggest since Windows 95.


In a press release dated August 27, 2004, Bill Gates refers to 2006 as a target date for the release of Windows Longhorn. In the press release a host of new feature monikers were detailed and began to become more familiar: WinFS, WinFX, Avalon, and Indigo. Here is an excerpt attributed to Gates:

Getting 'Longhorn' to customers in 2006 will provide important advances in performance, security and reliability, and will help accelerate the creation of exciting new applications by developers across the industry.


On July 21, 2005, at the Microsoft Global Business Conference (MGB) in Atlanta, Microsoft announced that the new operating system's official name is to be Windows Vista. A video of that event is linked to in the press release. Less than a week later, on July 27, Windows Vista Beta 1 began reaching the hands of testers.


While waiting until sometime in the first half of 2007 for the release of Windows Vista seems like a long time to wait, it's really a small chunk of time when you step back and realize how long we've actually been waiting for this new operating system. Of course, I've only highlighted a few of the events along the way, but each one of these events clearly highlights the path of anticipation as we stand ready to receive Beta 2. As always, if you have comments or information to share about the Beta 2 or any of the Windows Longhorn/Vista events leading up to this moment, please take a moment to drop by the Discussion area and let us hear.

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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