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Is your PC ready for Longhorn?

Microsoft plans to give developers their "first close look" at hardware requirements needed to run the next version of Windows at a conference in May.

Microsoft said it will unveil the hardware requirements needed to run Longhorn--the next version of Windows--at a May developer conference.

In an e-mail, the software maker said it will outline the required specifications for computers to run Windows at WinHEC (the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference), which takes place May 4 to May 7 in Seattle.

In a promotional e-mail for the conference, Microsoft said hardware and driver developers could "get the first close look" at Longhorn. In addition to the system requirements, the Redmond, Wash., company said it will detail how to write the drivers needed to connect hardware in Longhorn, along with "future directions for mobile computing and Tablet PCs, Media Center Edition, 64-bit Windows" and embedded versions of Windows.

Microsoft released a developers' preview of the software at its Professional Developers Conference last fall and has promised that the first beta, or test, version will be made available this summer. The company has not said when a final version of Longhorn will arrive, but analysts expect that it will be late 2005 or 2006.

The company has billed Longhorn as the biggest advance for Windows since Windows 95. The operating system features three major upgrades--a new graphics and presentation engine known as Avalon, a new communications architecture called Indigo and a new file system known as WinFS.