Longhorn's new name: Windows Vista

Microsoft gives the oft-delayed operating system an official name, and says a test version is on track for release next month.

The next version of Windows finally has an official name: Windows Vista.

The advertising tagline for Vista is "Clear, Confident, Connected: Bringing clarity to your world," according to a video of the announcement posted by Microsoft.

The company also said Friday that the first beta, or test release, of Vista is slated for release by Aug. 3. That release will be targeted at developers and IT professionals, said Brad Goldberg, general manager of Windows product development.

Eye on Windows Vista
Say what you want about the upcoming OS, just don't call it Windows XP Service Pack 3.

A second, broader test release aimed at consumers will likely debut ahead of Vista's final release in the second half of next year, the company said.

Microsoft is also planning to begin testing a server version of the operating system by Aug. 3, with final shipment slated for 2007. The company said that version will not bear the Vista name. Instead, its name will "follow existing naming convention" for Windows Server. The current version is called Windows Server 2003.

The software giant spent roughly eight months researching potential names for the upcoming version of Windows.

Windows Vista logo
The Windows Vista logo
"We went through a process of focus groups and research to find out what name would convey idea of clarity. We think Vista captures the idea of clarity," he said.

The new name debuted Thursday before roughly 10,000 attendees of a Microsoft sales conference in Atlanta, Goldberg said.

The Vista moniker breaks with the company's tradition of using version numbers or acronyms for new Windows releases. The current version of the operating system, Windows XP--short for "experience," according to Microsoft--debuted in October 2001.

Ah, but what's in a name?
Vista's three design goals include better security, new ways to organize information, and seamless connectivity to external devices, the company said. Microsoft will provide more detail on Vista features Aug. 3, Goldberg said.

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The company first announced plans for Longhorn in 2001. It was originally expected to debut in 2004. The company has since revamped the feature list and launch date several times.

Longhorn has changed significantly since Microsoft first demonstrated an early version in 2003. The company has dropped plans to include its all-new WinFS file system and has also changed the way it's implementing a new Web services architecture, known as Indigo, and a new graphics engine, dubbed Avalon.

Goldberg said Microsoft will provide more information on WinFS, Indigo and Avalon in September at the company's Professional Developer's Conference in Los Angeles. "That's where we will unveil our entire development picture," he said.

Among the key features of Vista are a new searching mechanism, lots of new laptop features, parental controls and better home networking. There will also be visual changes, thanks to Avalon, ranging from shiny translucent windows to icons that are tiny representations of a document itself.

On the business side, Microsoft said Longhorn will be easier for businesses to deploy on multiple PCs and will also cut costs by reducing the number of times computers will have to be rebooted.

News.com's Ina Fried contributed to this report.
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