Microsoft looks beyond Vista, sees Vienna

The software maker has changed the code name for the Windows Vista follow-on, once known as Blackcomb.

Although Microsoft is hard at work trying to ship Windows Vista this year, the company is beginning to set its sights on the next horizon, Vienna.

Vienna, once labeled Blackcomb, is the new code name for the successor to Vista. It is not clear when Vienna might ship or what features it might contain. Microsoft confirmed the name change on Friday, but declined to comment on Vienna's stage of development.

"The 'Blackcomb' code name has been changed to 'Vienna,' but we do not have any other details to share on timing or focus," Microsoft said in a statement to CNET "This does not reflect a big change for us; we have used city code names in the past, which are derived from cities/locations in the world known for great 'vistas'--the kinds of places we all want to see, experience and that capture the imagination. Vienna fits with this concept."

The code name for Windows XP was Whistler, a Canadian ski resort. Blackcomb was also a ski resort, while Longhorn (Vista's code name) came from the Longhorn Saloon, which was about halfway between Whistler and Blackcomb.

Microsoft evangelist Robert Scoble first confirmed the new code name in a posting to the company's Channel 9 developer site.

Directions on Microsoft analyst Michael Cherry said that Microsoft is looking to speed up the frequency of its Windows releases, but cautioned not to read too much into the name change.

"It's just a morale thing," Cherry said. "The other names have been kicking around so long. It's much more about trying to keep focused and keep some excitement around where they are going."

As for Vista, Microsoft is slated to ship it in the second half of this year, roughly five years after it shipped Windows XP. The Vista update promises to have better search, a new graphics engine and other improved features.

However, there are several features that were pulled out of Vista that could conceivably become part of Vienna, most notably a new file storing mechanism known as WinFS.

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