Is Bill Gates the New Nostradamus?

by Preston Gralla

Listening to Bill Gates talk about the release date for Longhorn is a bit like reading the prophesies of the ancient "seer" Nostradamus - you can read anything that you want into the words, because the pronouncements are so vague, and there's been so many of them.

True believers point to Nostradamus as predicting everything from the reign of Napoleon, to the moon landing, to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, to the attack on the World Trade Center. That's because he wrote things like:

Within the pit will be found the bones,

Incest will be committed by the stepmother:

The state changed, they will demand fame and praise,

And they will have Mars attending as their star.

Um…thanks for sharing. The next time I'm looking in a pit for bones I'll keep that in mind.

Bill Gates, of course, says nothing quite so colorful, but his words, especially when it comes to the release of Longhorn, can be open to just about any interpretation. A few days ago, at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2004, he said this about the Longhorn release date: "People are speculating that we're out in 2006 sometime, and that's probably valid speculation."

Does that mean that Longhorn will be released in 2006, or merely that it's valid to speculate that it will be released in 2006? Who knows? After all, a year ago Microsoft said Longhorn would be out in 2005, and it's also previously said beta would be out in 2004. To use the words of one-time Nixon press secretary Ron Ziegler, those statements are no longer "operative."

Why is this important? When Longhorn comes out everything changes. From its Web services-oriented underpinnings to its new database-driven file system, the new operating system will thoroughly alter how we used PCs, and how businesses use them as well. Developers will have to change what they write, and how they write it. And even the economy, to a certain extent, hinges on the release of the new operating system, because when it comes out, expect more hardware to be bought to take advantage of it, and new applications written to tap into it as well.

Selfishly, I can't wait to get my hands on it - who doesn't like playing with new toys? And I'd love to update my book Windows XP Hacks with the Longhorn edition.

So when will we see it? Perhaps you know better than Bill Gates. So here's your chance to be Nostradamus. Post a Nostradamus-like prophecy here, and we'll see if we can decipher it.

Become a modern-day Nostradamus. Write your prophesy about Longhorn.


2004-03-31 20:53:23
Longhorn is a replay of Cairo
1994 : Cairo Takes OLE to New Levels
The next version of Windows NT, code-named Cairo and targeted for release sometime in 1995, will be built around the concepts of objects and component software. It will have a native OFS (Object File System) and distributed system support.

1995 : Signs to Cairo
Cairo, Microsoft's object-oriented successor to Windows NT, will begin beta testing in early 1996 for release in 1997. Although Microsoft is not revealing the full details of Cairo yet, there are enough clues within current Microsoft OSes to yield a good idea of how it might work.

1996 : Unearthing Cairo
At the first NT developers conference in 1992, Bill Gates announced that Cairo would arrive in three years and would incorporate object-oriented technologies, especially an object file system. Since then, we've seen Windows NT 3.1, NT 3.5, NT 3.51, and most recently NT 4.0. None is object oriented, none has an object file system, none is Cairo. It seems that Cairo is Microsoft's sly way of promising the world. "Will we see Plug and Play in NT?" "Oh yes, of course, in Cairo." "Will NT ever produce world peace and cheap antigravity?" "You bet -- in Cairo."

The so call Longhorn WinFS directory is just another rencarnation of the Cairo object orientated file system.

September 1, 2003 Eweek 'Longhorn' Rollout Slips
Microsoft Corp. has once again shifted the schedule for the release of "Longhorn," the company's next major version of Windows, leaving some users up in the air about an upgrade path.

Microsoft executives from Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates on down have long described Longhorn as the Redmond, Wash., company's most revolutionary operating system to date. The product was originally expected to ship next year. Then in May of this year, officials pushed back the release date to 2005. But now executives are declining to say when they expect the software to ship.

"We do not yet know the time frame for Longhorn, but it will involve a lot of innovative and exciting work," said Gates at a company financial analyst meeting this summer. Since then, other Microsoft officials have neither retracted nor clarified Gates' statement.

Now it's 2006, or is that 2007 ...

2004-04-01 02:03:05
Longhorn will not alter the way I use PCs - because I don't :-)
2004-04-01 02:15:35
Only when people are using it..
Longhorn's importance is relative to the amount of users that take it up. Longhorn is still vapour ware and its only relevance is because it is to be the follow up of Windows 95/98/NT/2000/XP. All these Windows are still in use.

In the mean time Linux is stealing a march on Windows and as long as Longhorn's uptake is not dominant in serverland and with a growing non windows userland, the significance of Longhorn is even less.

It is expected that Microsoft will use the IP card to prevent emulation. This will even further deminish the importance of Longhorn.

2004-04-01 07:39:00
What I don't get...
... is why everyone bitches when Microsoft releases a "not ready for prime time" product, and now when they are taking their time and incorporating tons of feedback from developers, people bitch because the product isn't ready next week. How come "when it's ready" isn't an acceptable answer for a software release?
2004-04-01 14:25:03
My prophesy...
...Microsoft's Longhorn = Apple's Copland.

You could argue that MS, with greater resources than Apple, might be able to push through. But I think the difficulty of revamping an entire OS while maintaining application compatibility is like trying to re-carpet a room without moving any of the furniture: almost impossible, no matter how much money you have to throw at it.

In the case of Copland, which was going to be a revolutionary Mac OS 8, feature creep kept pushing back the release date. The project in its original form was scuttled, but we did see an incremental Mac OS 8 (and later, OS 9) that incorporated some of Copland's features, including user interface enhancements, a skinnable UI (briefly), multi-user capabilities, indexed-content searches, etc. The modernized kernel was never incorporated into the original platform; Apple chose instead to replace the whole core with Unix/NeXTStep, and put the reentrant APIs developed for Copland on top, in the Carbon environment. (At least this is where I suspect Carbon traces its heritage to)

There's a good chance we'll see something similar happen to Longhorn. Many of the great ideas will make their way into the Windows platform over time, but I wouldn't hold my breath for the earth-shattering, revolutionary OS that Bill keeps talking about.

Or, I could be completely wrong, and it could be Windows 3.1 -> Windows 95 all over again.

2005-02-10 00:03:54
What I don't get...
Some people like to have more certanty regarding IT, especially when speaking about MS versions :-).

D. Orbach

josh pionk
2006-05-14 21:28:18
and so the bull will be delayed to charge through the gates of the American homesteads.the one they call vista may never come.