Windows Road Map
With a range of specialty Windows operating systems (and of products tied in to them), it can be hard to keep track of planned future releases of Microsoft software. Here, then, is the road map for Windows, circa summer 2004. Most of the dates are estimates from analysts and Microsoft observers; the company is reluctant to officially say when an update will arrive. Also, as with any Microsoft project, there's a good chance that delays will occur.
Windows Media Player 10
Expected late summer 2004:WMP 10 will have a simpler interface plus support for Microsoft's digital rights management, which will enable music services to offer downloadable tunes.
Windows XP Media Center Edition
Expected late 2004:This update to Media Center Edition 2004 (code-named Symphony) promises some pretty cool new video and audio features.
Windows XP 64-Bit Edition for 64-Bit Extended Systems
Expected late 2004 or early 2005:This mouthful will be optimized to take advantage of AMD and Intel 64-bit processors.
Longhorn Beta 1 and 2
Expected in 2005:The beta version of the next Windows (code-named Longhorn) will apparently offer Microsoft's futuristic, 3D "Aero" user interface.
Longhorn Release Candidates
Expected early 2006:As the release approaches, Microsoft will lock down the feature set and work on performance and fit-and-finish issues.
Expected mid- to late 2006:The new OS promises security features and hack-proof components that more closely resemble those in Linux and Mac OS X than those in past Windows.