The Road to Windows “Longhorn”

What we know about the next version of Windows

If you’re a Net junkie like me, you’ve probably seen screenshots that reportedly expose upcoming user interfaces for the next two versions of Windows (code-named “Longhorn” and “Blackcomb”). You might have heard of internal alpha builds of either OS, and maybe, just maybe, you’ve seen the infamous Blackcomb movie that’s making the rounds as well. I’ve spent the past few months investigating all of these things, and after speaking with several Microsofties and uncovering the truth behind the wild stuff that’s available on the Internet, I thought I’d provide a little heads-up on what’s really going on with the next version of Windows.

Chances are, everything you know is wrong. But I do know this: As of this date–mid-January 2002–every single screenshot you’ve seen that purports to be Longhorn or Blackcomb is either fake or actually shows something other than those OSes. Every single one. And there are no builds of Blackcomb floating around, internal or otherwise.

Microsoft is indeed working on future versions of Windows and accompanying technologies such as Digital Media 9 (“Corona”), “Mira,” and “Freestyle” (see my related showcase about Freestyle and Mira). These technologies will all ship separately, while other technologies (such as the next version of Windows Movie Maker and DVD burning capabilities) won’t see the light of day until Longhorn ships in 2003. There are so many groups working on Windows-related technologies these days, in fact, that it’s hard to keep up.

So let’s start with an obvious target: That intriguing “Blackcomb” video and the screenshot fakes that appeared as a result.

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