Microsoft announced this week that it will pare down the planned feature set for Longhorn in order to be able to deliver the new OS in 2006. This caused big waves on the net and in the blogosphere with all sorts of speculation flying about. One take on the announcement places the Lognhorn release date in early 2006. If this is true (and that's a huge “if”), I am starting to wonder about the release schedule for Visual Studio .Net 2005.
For those who haven't been following the development of the next version of Visual Studio, we were first expecting the new dev siute (codename Whidbey) in late 2004. Then the schedule slipped into early 2005, and now, with one or two more betas expected in 2005, the speculation is that the release will happen in late 2005 (at least we'd hope so to justify the new product name). At the same time, Microsoft announced the follow-on release, codename Orcas, to show up in the Longhorn time frame.
Given that the Whidbey and Longhorn releases are now being targeted pretty close together, I am not sure there is any room left for Orcas. In fact, judging from past performance, I would venture a guess that the new OS will in fact debut in 2006. I would also think the VS.Net 2005 release will show up in or around the same time. I would also expect more fat (err, features) to be trimmed from Longhorn before we see it. Said fat, along with WinFS will probably resurface in a post-Longhorn release of the OS, circa, parhaps, 2008.
In other words, all we've witnessed this week is a reshuffling in marketing speak and product names. Its been widely reported that Microsoft will have a post-XP OS release prior to Longhorn delivery. It looks like Microsoft is still going forward with that plan by including a couple of ex-Longhorn features in that release (Indigo, the communications pipeline and Avalon, the graphics pipeline) and leaving off WinFS for what was formerly known as Longhorn target. The new, interim release inherits the “Longhorn“ moniker to pacify anyone complaining about slipping schedules.
Of course, this is all speculation, but it doesn't sound all that far-fetched to me.