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This week at Microsoft

Microsoft says Longhorn beta will arrive by June. Also: Company mulls releasing source code for tool used to build Windows programs.

Microsoft is on track to release the first full test version of the

The company has said publicly that Beta 1 of Longhorn would arrive by the end of 2005, though internally, the company has been aiming for a release by midyear. The final version of Longhorn is slated for the second half of next year.

"There will be a Beta 1 of Longhorn...happening in the first half of this year," said John Montgomery, a director in Microsoft's developer division. The release will be primarily aimed at developers, Montgomery said. "I do, however, expect that you will find IT departments starting to look at it, kick the tires, figure out what's in it and what's not in it."

However, the software maker has shelved plans to release a 2.0 version of its customer relationship management software in March, saying it needs until the end of the year to finish the program. The delay comes as Microsoft hires a new executive to lead its customer relationship management division. Former PeopleSoft executive Brad Wilson joined the company on Monday as general manager of Microsoft CRM.

In an interview, Wilson insisted that the sudden decision to put off the 2.0 release was unrelated to the recent management changes. Instead, the company wants to spend more time developing the product after reviewing feedback from partners and customers, he said.

Microsoft is also considering the release of source code for a popular tool used to build Windows programs. In a blog posting last week, Shawn Burke, a development manager at Microsoft's Windows Forms team, floated the idea of releasing the source code to Windows Forms to its developer customers. Windows Forms is a programming model used with Microsoft's Visual Studio tools to build the user interface portion of Windows desktop applications.

Burke made clear that open-sourcing Windows Forms is under consideration, but that no decisions have been made. He said that the idea faces hurdles, including legal issues, security and cost, and that the move is not universally supported within Microsoft.

Aiming to boost its security portfolio, Microsoft plans to buy Sybari Software, whose Antigen scanner for Microsoft Exchange e-mail and SharePoint collaboration servers is in use among the software giant's customers. It's the company's third security-focused deal in 18 months, and a sign that the company is getting serious about security.