Longhorn is the blanket code-name for the next version of Microsoft Windows (to follow Windows XP), Windows Server, .NET, MSN, and Microsoft Office. Expected to ship sometime in 2006 (but possibly as early as 2005 or as late as 2009), Microsoft has released documentation and early builds of several features that are expected to be included:
- a new database filesystem-extension called WinFS for Windows FutureStorage. (Note: WinFS is not a new filesystem; NTFS will remain the preferred filesystem in Longhorn.) WinFS is based on the next version of SQL Server, code-named Yukon. It allows one to see the relationships between files, rather than just the current hierarchical folder-file relationships.
- a completely re-designed user interface, code-named Aero.
- DirectX-based windows to .NET-XML-based vector formats under the codename Avalon, which are to replace the older APIs known as GDI. Longhorn will require 3D computer graphics hardware that enables the new DirectX-based user interface.
- WinFX, an API which will replace the Windows API formerly known as Win32.
- anti-virus APIs for programmers writing anti-virus software.
- built-in DVD recording capabilities.
- a new installation program that will install Longhorn in about 15 minutes.
- a command-line interface codenamed Monad.
At this time, Microsoft intends to offer various editions of Longhorn, priced differently: