In a bid to maintain its competitive advantage while it preps Windows Longhorn for release over the next two years, Microsoft will not provide attendees at the Professional Developer Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles with the code for Aero, Longhorn's exciting and innovative graphical user interface. Instead, attendees will receive a special Longhorn build with the Aero bits removed, and Microsoft executives will only provide a special demonstration preview of Aero during Chairman Bill Gates' keynote address. I've now verified these plans with several sources at and close to Microsoft.
"[Until early September,] Microsoft wasn't sure whether it would just demo Aero or supply it to PDC attendees," one source told me recently. But the decision to only demonstrate Aero was made because of the long delay between the PDC and Longhorn's final release, which is set for late 2005. If the company released all of its UI work now, its OS competitors--such as Apple Computer and various companies and organizations in the Linux camp, all of which have fewer customers and faster release cycles than Microsoft--would be able to clone its work before Longhorn releases. This problem has dogged Microsoft in the past, the most recent example being Apple's Expose technology, which will ship in Mac OS X 10.3 late this year; Microsoft has been demonstrating Expose-like technology for years now, but the work won't show up in Windows until the Longhorn release at the earliest.
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