Preview: Microsoft Windows Longhorn: test and review

After Windows XP Professional x64 available since April 25, 2005, Microsoft’s next major announcement regarding Windows will be the long-awaited consumer version known as Longhorn. This new Windows include Avalon, a new graphics engine and presentation and Indigo, a Web services architecture and communications. The operating system will be available in 32 and 64 bit versions, 64-bit processors the beginning only to be marketed as AMD Intel. The first beta of Longhorn is planned for summer 2005 and the final version in late 2006.

Pros: Since Windows XP, Longhorn will offer a choice of graphics interfaces including that of XP but also the original and new Aero Glass, in which translucent windows come to life when opened or their maximum magnification. The icons show the contents of files – the first page of a text, for example, rather than the Word logo. Longhorn will offer a faster boot sequence for laptops with calendar view option or opportunity to play music without having to boot the entire operating system. Other changes also aimed at laptop users will facilitate their access to domestic and professional networks ensuring data security when connecting to a public network Wi-Fi (hotspot). It will also be possible to ask the system to remember the preferences associated with the viewing of DVD such as that of always displaying the image in full screen.

Network-related functions are still under development. However, Microsoft seeks to facilitate the installation of versions of Longhorn customized business on many machines. For individuals, the system should make it easier data sharing, perhaps jointly presenting all files containing music or pictures, even if they reside on different machines in the home network.

Finally, a number of safety-related improvements are expected with interest. Microsoft expects that PCs will run on Longhorn at the lowest possible level of authorization, contrary to administrator level currently used by XP, giving all access. The Longhorn version of Internet Explorer will also reduce access to external websites. Both provisions and better resistance of the file system against attacks by buffer overflow ( “Buffer overflow” in English), should significantly reduce the number of malicious attacks. Also in this area, Microsoft has not specified whether the new virus would be integrated with Longhorn or supplied separately.

Cons: As with any new operating system, the hardware requirements will grow, perhaps even beyond the capabilities of most existing Windows users. Although not finalized, it is likely that Longhorn requires at least 512 MB of memory and a microprocessor and a recent graphics card. There is currently no plan to create a Media Center or Tablet PC edition of Longhorn.

Verdict: Most users will probably wait for the purchase of a new PC to have a copy of Windows Longhorn so that hardware and system can function in harmony. Microsoft recognizes not expect that potential users are rushing to purchase a version of Longhorn when it ships in late 2006.