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Microsoft offers Indigo, Avalon to the public

Well, a public beta of Longhorn still is not around, but those eager to play around with the next generation of Windows can get a bit of a head start.

After giving registered developers a crack at the Indigo and Avalon components, the software maker is now ready to give the general public access as well. This week Microsoft made the community preview editions available to the public.

For those who aren't keeping up to date on Redmond's latest code words (and shame on you), Avalon is the next-generation presentation engine for Windows and Indigo is Microsoft's new Web services architecture. Both were originally slated to arrive with Longhorn but are now slated to come both in Longhorn and as a download for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 users. The preview versions require Windows XP or Windows Server 2003.

As for the big steer itself, developers are likely to get an updated pre-beta version of Longhorn at the WinHEC conference next month. A beta has been slated for the first half of the year.