According to numerous news stories, yesterday, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates off-handedly said that probably true is speculation Longhorn wouldn't ship until 2006. I can't say that I'm surprised. In the summer 2003 report, "Longhorn: Implications of the Next Windows' Ship Date," I pegged 2006 as Longhorn's likely release date.
Circumstances since lead me to question whether Longhorn's delivery might be later. As I blogged previously, release delays for "Whidbey" (Visual Studio .Net 2005) and "Yukon" (SQL Server 2005) jeopardized Microsoft's internal release schedule for Longhorn. I also see Windows XP Service Pack 2 compatibility issues and plans for Windows Server 2003 R2 as other indicators Longhorn's delivery would push out further.
Now weigh in those news stories, where Mr. Gates reportedly said that an "alpha" Longhorn version would ship later this year. In October, Microsoft had said the first Longhorn beta would ship in summer 2004. Assuming the alpha does ship by year's end, which would make sense given the Whidbey and Yukon delays, a solid beta might not come for another year. If that were the case, meaningful 2006 release--meaning widespread availability--would be a difficult target for Microsoft to hit.
Four of my reports are required reading for anyone trying to make sense out of Longhorn's delivery delays: The aforementioned one on Longhorn, "Service Pack 2: Microsoft Fortifies Windows XP," and two soon-to-publish on Windows fragmentation and Microsoft security. [via Microsoft Monitor]