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
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.