“Late last month, Microsoft finally issued its first public build of Longhorn, build 5048… some features, like the Sidebar and the new system-wide Contacts utility, are missing in action in 5048. There are reasons for these omissions. None of them are particularly good… Between WinHEC 2004 and WinHEC 2005, and while Longhorn was silently being re-engineered, Microsoft publicly revealed that Longhorn was changing somewhat. First, the WinFS data storage engine would be delayed until after Longhorn shipped, though Microsoft promised a beta version of WinFS around the same time that Longhorn was completed and vowed to include most of the instant desktop search functionality in Longhorn regardless. Second, key Longhorn technologies, such as Avalon and Indigo, would be ported to Windows XP with SP2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, and the x64 versions of XP and 2003, to ensure developers that they would have a big enough market to target. Microsoft also vowed to ship Longhorn in 2006,” Paul Thurrott writes for Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows.

“I have to be honest here. After a year without a single new Longhorn build and very little concrete information about what was going on with the project, I had high expectations for build 5048. And a pre-WinHEC briefing with the software giant did nothing to assuage those hopes. Plus, I’ve seen advanced Longhorn UI work and I knew how cool this thing was going to be,” Thurrott writes. “Build 5048 communicates none of that. And that’s a shame, because Microsoft had a chance to ramp up the momentum of a product that, quite frankly, could use a little momentum. On the one hand, we have Windows XP with SP2, which many people describe as ‘good enough,’ a phrase that will haunt Microsoft for years to come as it tries to foist new Windows and Microsoft Office versions on them with decreasing success. On the other hand, I present the competition, Linux and Mac OS X. The Linux market may be convoluted and disjointed, but Linux, too, is ‘good enough,’ and it’s free, along with ‘good enough’ applications like OpenOffice.org and better Web browsers, like Firefox.”

Thurrott writes, “It gets worse. Apple’s Mac OS X, recently upgraded to version 10.4 Tiger, is more than ‘good enough.’ In many ways, OS X is simply better than Windows, especially for experienced computer users, and Tiger rubs Microsoft’s nose in the embarrassment of shipping a key Longhorn feature–instant desktop search–a full year ahead of the software giant. That’s right folks. We already knew that Microsoft was facing smaller, nimbler competitors. But those competitors are now starting to outperform Microsoft in the feature department too. It’s time for Redmond to stop pretending Linux and OS X don’t exist… Anyway, Longhorn build 5048 is pretty boring… Here’s what I found out about this build during a busy week of testing.”

Thurrott glumly covers the state of Longhorn in his full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Sometimes waking up can be painful and Thurrott seems to be doing it in print for everyone to read. Hopefully, the honesty keeps flowing and, while it does, Thurrott’s articles provide good insights, information, and are interesting reads. Kudos to Thurrott for calling it like it is for all to see.

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