Allchin: Yukon Coming in '03-'04, Longhorn in '05

"Yukon," the code-name for a major overhaul of SQL Server, will be ready for general availability sometime during the 2004 fiscal year, and "Longhorn," the code-name for the Windows operating system release after Windows .NET Server 2003, is coming in 2005, according to a senior Microsoft official.

Jim Allchin, group vice president of platforms at Microsoft laid out the roadmap during a keynote address at the Windows Server DevCon in Seattle last Friday.

For Longhorn, this roadmap represents somewhat lofty expectations. Microsoft has said Longhorn will include a major upgrade of its server platform. But, it has not yet released Windows .NET Server, which by most accounts is a relatively minor upgrade to Microsoft’s existing server OS, Windows 2000. As of now, Windows .NET Server is expected for general availability in early 2003, leaving just about two years for Microsoft to revamp its server platform for Longhorn.

Though Microsoft has set a timetable for Longhorn, Allchin said the pressure to meet a 2005 deadline is not a primary concern for the Windows group. Rather, building quality software is the top priority. “We’re not going to put something out there just to meet some date,” he said.

Microsoft’s expectations regarding Yukon are more achievable, and Allchin's comments introduce a fudge factor. Microsoft has previously said Yukon would probably ship in 2003. By saying now that it's coming in fiscal year 2004, which starts in July 2003, Microsoft has given itself the first half of 2004 to deliver the product.

Yukon is an anchor for much of Microsoft's future product roadmap. Microsoft aims to leverage its Yukon effort to provide a unified storage architecture foundation for future .NET Enterprise Server components, such as the "Kodiak" release of its Exchange e-mail server, and future operating systems, such as the Longhorn release of Windows. With Yukon, Microsoft will be introducing XML and file streams as native types for storage, which, among other enhancements, Allchin said will provide customers more “rich storage” options.

Both Yukon and Longhorn are part of a three-wave roadmap Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates recently outlined at Microsoft’s annual Financial Analysts meeting. Comprised of the “Now wave” the “Yukon wave” and the “Longhorn wave”, Gates said the roadmap will account for most of the enterprise software coming out of Redmond over the next several years.

The Now wave is software the company expects to release by June 30, 2003. This includes Windows .NET Server, which just entered the Release Candidate 1 stage; Windows Media 9 Series; Windows XP Media Center Edition; Windows XP Tablet PC Edition; Windows CE for Smart Displays; and an update of Visual Studio .NET.

In addition to the timetable discussion, Allchin disclosed many features and design goals Microsoft is working into its products.

As part of Longhorn, Allchin said customers can expect to see new features for intelligent auto configuration, such as BIOSes and firmware that can be “automatically updated in a seamless way.” Also, Allchin said Longhorn will include new functionality for server resiliency, such as self-healing characteristics, a more componentized architecture, and additional monitoring services with filters that can “dynamically” flow out to servers.

Long term, Allchin said federation is a core goal for Microsoft. “We want to federate everything,” he said. “Our dream there is to really be able to do federation on heterogeneous sites from an identity perspective.”

Microsoft’s federated strategy is largely tied to its GXA XML initiative, which is a recently announced XML protocol framework designed to provide a consistent model for building infrastructure-level protocols for Web services and applications. With GXA, Allchin said Microsoft is striving to achieve interoperability not only among Microsoft’s product line, but also with partner offerings as well as those of its competitors.

About the Author

Matt Migliore is regular contributor to He focuses particularly on Microsoft .NET and other Web services technologies. Matt was the editor of several technology-related Web publications and electronic newsletters, including Web Services Report, ASP insights and MIDRANGE Systems.