Microsoft Shows Off Longhorn’s Guts at WinHEC

Many will at long last get a peek at the guts of Microsoft’s forthcoming ‘Longhorn’ operating system this week as the software giant kicks off its Windows Hardware Engineering (WinHEC) trade show in New Orleans Tuesday.

Windows Longhorn is the codename for the next major Windows operating system release, expected in late 2004 or early 2005. Longhorn is expected to integrate the Palladium security architecture, a 3-D enabled user interface (codenamed “Avalon”) and a file system dubbed Windows Future Storage, which is based on SQL Server 2003.

Attendees of the WinHEC show will have a chance to take in a slew of sessions covering the upcoming operating system’s drivers, audio/video capabilities and display architecture.

The company will also use the show as a platform to unveil its new Hardware and Driver Developer Central portal.

On the Audio and Video Devices track, Microsoft will offer sessions in Windows Longhorn Audio Architecture and Windows Longhorn Audio/Video User Experience. The first takes a high level look at Longhorn’s audio architecture, including an overview of the new “glitch-free audio subsystem” which the company said has been “redesigned for ease-of-use and flexibility.” The second session promises an overview of the new audio video device support infrastructure and user interface that Microsoft said will make audio/video devices “just work” within Windows and Windows applications.

Another session will cover designing portable media players for Longhorn, including technical information on new transfer software designs and information on new wire protocols for device communications.

On the Client Storage track, the company will discuss its plans for optical storage and writable CD and DVD file system support in Longhorn.

In Display Innovations, the company will unveil its Longhorn Signature Monitor concept, which aims to change assumptions about traditional computer monitor applications and create a monitor that enhances business productivity while also serving as the ideal display device for video and entertainment applications. Microsoft will also give an overview of Longhorn’s color management architecture and show how independent hardware vendors (IHVs) can use the architecture to develop new products. The company has also promised demonstrations of medical imaging, professional photography, enterprise printing and other scenarios using the architecture.

For manufacturers, Microsoft is providing a session on the Windows Longhorn Deployment Toolkit, which engineers will use to preinstall the operating system on PCs.

Microsoft will give attendees an overview of driver development for the new operating system, as well as hardware compatibility testing. Separate sessions will break out information on Longhorn’s graphics drivers and DirectX 9 for Longhorn, which leverage the power of today’s video cards to drive more “stable and feature-rich” 3-D rendering.

The company is also using the show to launch its new Windows Hardware and Driver Central (WHDC) community, which Microsoft hopes will serve as a centralized community resource which helps provide hardware and driver developers with the technical information they need.