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Longhorn Server on tap

Microsoft says a server version of Longhorn, the next release of Windows, is in the works. But the company hasn't set a firm ship date.

LOS ANGELES--Microsoft on Tuesday confirmed that there will be a server version of Longhorn, the next major version of Windows.

While the server version of Longhorn is part of Microsoft's plan, the company has said little about what it will offer and when it will arrive. The product was listed without a ship date during a presentation Tuesday by Microsoft server and tools boss Eric Rudder at the company's Professional Developer Conference here.

While Rudder did not put a time frame on or reveal new details about a Longhorn server, he did offer a list of other server software that will precede the new operating system's launch. The next version of Microsoft's Visual Studio, code-named Whidbey, and the next version of SQL Server, code-named Yukon, are both still slated to be released in the second half of next year.

"We'll deliver both of those technologies before we deliver Longhorn," Rudder said.

Rudder also used part of his keynote speech to stress security issues, encouraging programmers to put more emphasis on checking to make sure that their applications are secure.

"Fresh eyes on code are one of the best ways to do security reviews," he said.

Rudder promised that Microsoft will bring to its products some of the techniques it has found for preventing common breaches such as buffer overruns.

"You'll see lots of tools coming out to help you...but they only work if you use them," he said.

Rudder also suggested other ways that developers can contribute to making their programs part of an overall computing environment that is more secure. In particular, he urged programmers to create software that works well with firewalls and antivirus software and to limit the number of people with administrator network privileges. Also, he said, developers may want to consider turning off features that may add a security risk and may not be needed by all computer users.

"You'll see us actually shipping more and more of our software with features off by default," he said.

Much of the morning's keynote speech consisted of demonstrations of how Whidbey will make it easier to write programs for PCs, the Web and mobile devices, particularly those that run versions of Windows CE. Microsoft used the hypothetical example of an insurance company that needs new software for its claims adjusters, as well as a new Web site and a mobile program for customers to submit a claim over their Windows Mobile-powered smart phone.

In the phone example, Microsoft executives showed how Whidbey, when combined with a future version of Smartphone, could quickly enable a program to take a picture of an accident and send it via e-mail to the insurance company, while using Web services to grab both the location of the accident as well as the weather information.