Proclaiming that the digital decade is just dawning, Microsoft chairman and chief software architect, Bill Gates, has given the world its first official peek at Longhorn, the next version of Windows expected out in 2006.
Longhorn will be "the biggest release of this decade, the biggest since Windows 95", Gates said in his opening keynote at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles.
With Longhorn, Microsoft will introduce a unified storage system dubbed WinFS for Windows Future Storage. The unified file system is the "Holy Grail" for Gates.
"I have been talking about it for over a decade and finally here it is," he said.
Together with a new engine underlying the Longhorn user interface code-named Avalon, WinFS should make it easier for users to find and organize files on their PCs. The familiar directories and folders will be replaced with extensible markup language (XML) metadata, allowing users to easily find documents that relate to a specific project or topic, or all communications with one person, for example.
Longhorn would also pull data out of the "silos" that were the individual applications, Gates said.
Data will reside at the platform level, instead of at the application level.
E-mail address book information, for example, would be accessible from multiple applications, instead of just the email client, Gates said.
WinFS will be based on technology from Yukon, the code name for the next version of Microsoft's SQL Server database due out next year.
"Until we had a lot of this database technology we could not organize these things," Gates said.