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No public Longhorn preview, says MS – developers only

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The leak of the special Longhorn build designed for Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference (PDC) this week may turn out to have a lot more rarity value than expected. According to Microsoft, this build will not be widely available after all.

The PDC build, 4051, is part of a DVD package, which also includes the Longhorn SDK and Whidbey, handed out this week. Some have been expecting Microsoft to cater for developers who're not attending PDC by including it in the December MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) update, and it's also been rumoured that it will be made available to the wider public for a small fee in November. This latter would have been unprecedented, because 4051 is an alpha version, and beta 1 of Longhorn, Microsoft's Jim Allchin indicated this week, won't be out until next summer.

But Microsoft will not be strewing copies of 4051 to all and sundry after all. According to a spokesman: "The PDC bits of Longhorn, Whidbey and Yukon are not available via download, and will not be broadly distributed to MSDN subscribers. The bits are available to MSDN subscribers only upon request, at no charge and will be shipped to them."

This seems to be news to at least some MSDN subscribers, as recent posters in MSDN discussion groups appear to be under the impression that it will be in the December drop. But here's the official notice - you need to call MSDN customer service and get them to ship it.

From what we can see this effectively knocks any notion of widespread distribution of 4051 on the head. It's a special build anyway, a fork in the Longhorn pre-beta code, so it's probably already out of date, and it isn't going to get any fresher. Subscribers asking Microsoft to ship it now will probably get it while it's still something more than a curiosity, although we'd expect it to take a little longer for the package to get to non-US subscribers.

And the rest of you? It certainly looks like there's no special Longhorn preview edition for you, and that it's back to business as usual with the leaks. ®

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