Mixed feelings about the splitting out of features on Longhorn

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/03/20 20:04 -05:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2005/03/20/399518.aspx


When I read articles like WinFS on XP, a VERY big deal! from Steve Richards in his blog (Adventures in home working), I have mixed feelings.

On the one hand, I agree with Steve that it is very cool that these features will be available on more platforms. It is possible to put too much pressure on a release by putting so much into it exclusively anyway, and features that are only on one OS are by their very nature limited in their appeal.

On the other hand, I worry about whether that will make the OS release less compelling when it becomes clear that many of the pillars in the original Longhorn Wave are no longer just for Longhorn. Understandably slow to go into more detail too soon about what the new defining pillars are this time, there is some hang time that pundits will write about the "fact" that apparently there are no pillars. Despite the fact that only morons and Microsoft haters (two very different groups in most cases) would usually choose to believe such rubbish, when only the headline-grabbing pundits are talking, there is no other message to believe. So the marketing risks are big...

On the other other hand (okay, the hands metaphor has fallen apart, lets pretend I have another hand), the fact that more language support is added to every version of the NT code base is hardly a state secret, so I am not giving away eyes-only uber-secretive knowledge when I say that there will be more locales, more languages, more writing systems, more scripts, and more fonts in Longhorn than in prior versions of Windows. That is just what happens when new versions are released. So that is just one perpetually compelling feature about new versions, especially when your language is one that is on the "new supported languages" list!

On the fourth hand (we're up to half an octopus now!), as I indicated in Lions and tigers and bearsELKs, Oh my! and Microsoft, you giving us some LIP? and Doing a little more in Sri Lanka.... it is obvious that GIFT -- Globalization Infrastructure, Fonts, and Tools (and other groups they work with) -- might be among the first of all of the Longhorn feature groups to have started shipping functionality out of band. Yet I don't think it is going to make the Longhorn language features less compelling. So maybe there is nothing to worry about.

On the fifth hand (okay, I admit the hand thing is now entirely out of hand), the functionality I work on never even appears as a bullet item for the marketing of Windows in most marketing presentations, so maybe it does not add much for many people when they are considering an upgrade.

On the sixth hand (don't even say it!), there is Windows XP Starter Edition, which heavily involved work from GIFT and other teams, did indeed get a great deal of visibility, as Windows find itself more accessible to people in markets that did not really consider it so (since not everyone speaks one of the small number of languages into which Windows had been localized up until then). So maybe language support is a marketing-friendly feature sometimes. They just needed an angle. :-)

On the seventh hand (I feel as weird about this as you, it is disarming to talk about having seven hands), I am sure once the Longhorn marketing team starts its engines we will once again be under the radar....

And finally on the eighth hand (maybe I can get Microsoft to let me expense an octopus for visualization purposes?), we will be very compelling to a lot of people because of that language support in spite of it all, and the fact that the know-little-pundits won't care because there is no scandal to it is really not very relevant. They seldom know what they are really talking about when they talk about language support, anyway.:-)

 

This post is brought to you by "D", "U", and "H" (U+0044U+0055, U+0048; a.k.a. LATIN CAPITAL LETTER D, LATIN CAPITAL LETTER U, LATIN CAPITAL LETTER H)
For obvious reasons, the letters understand all of this, and look forward to more of their brothers and sisters being able to join them in the Longhorn box. DUH!


# Jonathan on 20 Mar 2005 10:45 PM:

Making the various pillars available on XP/2003 will greatly benefit ISVs in vertical industries, such as the company I work for--If Avalon were Longhorn-only, we probably wouldn't start using it in our apps until at least 2010. Now, since it wil be available downlevel, we can.

Microsoft is exactly right in calling these "pillars." The aren't the operating system itself, they are what the OS is developed on. I've gotten to see the PDC 03 Longhorn shell (built on WinFS), and it was pretty amazing. Moving WinFS to XP won't enable that, and it's too bad people think that having the pillars on XP removes incentive for moving to Longhorn.

# Michael Kaplan on 20 Mar 2005 11:10 PM:

No arguments -- several of my eight hands even agree with you, Jonathan!

And also (as I pointed out), we have been doing this in GIFT since long before anyone else wa talking about working downlevel -- it did not raise a stir since we did not pre-announce any of it first at that PDC. :-)

# Senkwe on 21 Mar 2005 4:07 AM:

I think the backporting to XP was a wise decision. I think the reasoning MS will expect of developers is "If you think my app rocks on XP, wait till you see it on Longhorn".

Having said that, I get the feeling LH will be a dud pretty much. My assumption is that most MS employees have seen various builds of the OS and yet you never see any MS employees going "wow LH rocks, wait till you see how cool it is!!". (Except Scoble, but thats his job) Not even a hint that it's a revolutionary OS (And yes, your blog, entertaining as it is, falls into this category) :-)

# Michael Kaplan on 21 Mar 2005 4:20 AM:

Ah, but I could be one of those people who ain't talking yet, right? :-)

Though I have actually said things about Longhorn already, in presentations for Unicode, GDDC, IMUG, and elsewhere. We can't talk about everything, but as even this article states, I believe that many people will consider the language functionality to be pretty compelling....

I leave it to marketing to say what is revolutionary or not (that is mostly spin anyway). :-)

# Larry Osterman on 21 Mar 2005 9:01 PM:

Senkwe,
Wait until after the next major round of conferences, etc. The reason that nobody's particularly talking about LH is that most of the LH people are busy makeing it be really cool.

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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