Microsoft's 'Longhorn' becomes Windows Vista

Microsoft has announced the official name for its operating system, previously known under the code name "Longhorn." The operating system, due out in 2006, will now be known as Windows Vista with the tag line, "Bringing clarity to your world."

The software giant also revealed beta 1 of Windows Vista will be available to developers and IT professionals in less than two weeks on Aug. 3.

The first beta will include only some of Vista's promised functionality, such as virtual folders and a new desktop search engine, but will not include much of the graphical user interface (GUI) enhancements of the finished product, said Greg Sullivan, a group product manager with Windows Client for Microsoft.

Those features will be available in beta 2, Sullivan said, but did not disclose a time frame for that release, saying that depends on the feedback Microsoft receives about beta 1.

Microsoft is also widely expected to release more Vista bits to developers at its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles in mid-September, but Sullivan said it has not been decided whether or not this will occur. "There will certainly be more disclosure on features that will be added post beta 1 [at the PDC]," he said.

Microsoft first disclosed the official name for the next version of Windows Thursday at its annual sales meeting, Microsoft Global Business (MGB), in a presentation by Brian Valentine, senior vice president of the Windows Core Operating System Division. The company made that name change public in a webcast Friday.

Microsoft has part of its Web site set up for Vista at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/.

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