Microsoft has confirmed that its next-generation flagship Windows offering, currently known as Longhorn, is likely to ship in 2006.
Speaking at the Gartner Spring Symposium in San Diego this week, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said that sometime in 2006 was probably a "valid speculation" for the release of Longhorn.
"People are speculating that we're out in 2006 sometime and that's probably valid speculation, but this is not a date-driven release," he said.
"We will have a strong message that, if you're buying new systems or if you're looking at updating, [Windows XP] Service Pack 2 is the best client version to be using. But the really big breakthrough release is Longhorn."
Gates added that Microsoft would release an alpha build of Longhorn later this year, possibly in May, and that a final release date would be given after that.
The new operating system features a number of "fundamental breakthroughs" such as a new approach to 'click and install' applications, and the ability to work with the same profiled operating system from different machines.
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