Sunday, 11 July 2004

Over at there's an article describing surprise in some circles that Office 12 won't be married to the Longhorn release of Windows.

What people may not remember is that Office 2003 (AKA Office 11 - the current version) was originally planned to release with what would become Longhorn (back in the day), and that as the Longhorn release has changed over time, that relationship was also broken off well before it reached the altar.

The fact that Microsoft keeps its productivity apps moving while building a healthy platform for them to run on - In other words not gluing them to each other - is a good thing. Longhorn will be a monster-sized change in the Windows operating system world, and while Microsoft will almost certainly build special hooks into Office 12 that will take advantage of Longhorn's new features when(ever) it's released, I'd expect (based on my conversations) that another version of Office will soon follow or parallel the Longhorn release, but Office 12 will include some pre-baked Longhorn capabilities. Besides, they'll have to support previous versions of Windows for at least some time, in order to allow people to properly interoperate.

Longhorn will be to Windows XP and 2003 what Windows 95 was to Windows 3.1 -- It will be huge, a major change in the way we use computing power from both the end-user and programming/design perspectives. Longhorn represents the next paradigm shift in the Windows computer world, if you will.

Microsoft now does a better job of quickly finishing better and more-frequent releases of their software. In-house quality assurance and release management tools implemented in the past year or two help them reach bug-free, clean code state ("Milestone Q") faster and with greater confidence, which better enables them to get products ready and out the door, with more features and fewer problems. It also enables them to switch gears and attack issues in existing products ruthlessly when needed.

I, for one, am glad we won't have to wait for Longhorn to keep growing and improving in areas like Office and some of the other productivity applications. New versions of Office mean we can reasonably hope for new or enhanced versions of other Office System tools, which we know are coming - specifically tools like Live Communication Server (look for some very cool and improved features there in the next couple of releases), SharePoint, Exchange and other Office System products on the server-side. Longhorn should be the platform to beat all platforms from a computing perspective, and other applications should be built to fit when Longhorn is ready (meaning feature-completed, tested and secured in a way that Microsoft has never done before). To do otherwise would be akin to the tail wagging the dog, and that just won't do.

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Office 2003 | Tech
Sunday, 11 July 2004 11:03:23 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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