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Allchin confirms Longhorn delay

But denies XP SE caper

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The next major update to Windows codenamed Longhorn, will not appear until the second half of 2004, Microsoft told attendees at the WinHEC this week.

This confirms what we told you three weeks ago. But veep Jim Allchin vehemently denied that a Windows XP SE would appear in the interim. Which at least confirms that Microsoft is using its corporate customers to road test one likely scenario, while another is prepared for public (and press) consumption. Instead, Allchin said a consolidated XP Service Pack would be released later this year.

Allchin saved his XP SE remarks for an interview with eWeek's Peter Galli, and we can't tell from the published version whether Jim's nose grew appreciably during these comments. But there are two traditions at Microsoft that are by now predictable. There's an annual Windows operating system release - in the past ten years, only 1997 failed to see a new version of either DOS or Windows - and a highly configurable roadmap generator.

To appreciate the flexibility of the latter, recall that we were told to expect Chicago, the 32bit version of Windows for delivery in late 1993 (it shipped two years later), and then that there would only be one successor to Windows 95 before the DOS and NT codebases would "converge".

In the end, there were three interim versions. And for that matter, only last year key customers and partners were told to expect the new SQL data store in Blackcomb, a codename which has fallen off the roadmap entirely.

Microsoft has floated the idea of XP SE for first quarter 2003 release with corporate customers. This gives a decent interval before a fall 2004 Longhorn release.

The news caused a brief flutter of excitement with several dozen of you who have entered our spontaneous CNET sweepstake, in which we invited you to guess how long it would take the news site to report the news. It's Day 26, and counting, and no this doesn't count. And please, CNET staffers, we can't accept any more of your entries, appreciated as they are. You cheeky monkeys. ®

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