The first beta version of Microsoft's Longhorn probably won't be available until the second half of 2005. Previously this beta was planned for 2004, but earlier this year Microsoft said that it were delayed to early 2005.
The test version of this new operating system is delayed again because of all the work on security, especially Service Pack 2 for Windowsd XP , Microsoft said.
"I don't think you will see the beta in the first half," one of the sources said. "SP2 has been a very big deal."
The first delay of the Longhorn beta was because many developers working on Longhorn were reassigned to work on the new Service Pack for Windows XP. Service Pack 2 is planned to be ready for launch next month.
The beta will be released ahead of a second Longhorn-focused Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC), which the company is planning for the third or fourth quarter of 2005, the sources said.
Microsoft does plan to continue distributing technical preview releases of Longhorn ahead of the beta, the sources said. The company has already made available previews at PDC and the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) last May.
This could also mean a delay for Longhorn itself, because a beta period for Microsoft's products normally lasts at least 18 months, but for a major release such as Longhorn this may be extended. Currently Microsoft expects it to be ready for release in 2006.
Longhorn is a major new Windows release, a "big bet" for Microsoft, Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates said last year. Gates has described Longhorn as a "big breakthrough release" and the most significant release of Windows since Windows 95. Longhorn succeeds Windows XP, which was released in late 2001.
Longhorn had its coming out at the first Longhorn PDC last October in Los Angeles. It was the first time Microsoft talked publicly about many of the features it plans to put in the operating system.