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Avalon For All

Tuesday 31 August, 2004, 05:04 PM

This is just great! If you had asked me a week ago to pick my least favourite feature of Avalon, I would have singled out the fact that it wasn't going to become available for mainstream development any time soon. Even once Longhorn ships, it'll be a few years before it becomes widely deployed. I want to start using Avalon as soon as possible, so the prospect of having to wait until Longhorn not only ships, but is also widely adopted was a frustrating one.

So I am delighted to see that Avalon will now be available as redistributable for Windows XP. (And the rest of WinFX too. I'm just particularly enthusasitic about Avalon.) This means that two years from now, Avalon will be available to a vast number of users - we won't have to wait until Longhorn is widely deployed before we can use it in earnest. (They'll still have to be running XP or Windows server 2003 of course. The frequency with which I come across Windows 2000 and even NT 4 systems indicates that not everyone will have switched to Windows XP by the time Longhorn and Avalon ship. But at least Windows XP is very widespread already. So while XP won't be ubiquitous by 2006, it'll be popular enough that software mandating it won't marginalized.)

The thing that I've found rather surprising reading the reactions to this development over the last few days is the number of people who seem to be disappointed because they think that this means Longhorn is now non-interesting. I don't understand this - for me, it's the capabilities offered by Avalon that I'm excited about. I find it hard to sympathise with anyone who is disappointed that this new technology will now have a broader reach.

You could argue that relatively speaking, this makes Longhorn less interesting, but only because Windows XP just got a lot more interesting. From an absolute point of view, Longhorn's Avalon and Indigo functionality look just as compelling as they did before. All that's changed is you can start using this functionality sooner. How could that be bad?

(I can see being disappointed that WinFS isn't going to be ready in time. It's only the people who are apparently disappointed at the availability of down-level versions of Avalon and Indigo who are confusing me. And as for WinFS, I'm happy that Microsoft decided to defer that in order to ship the rest on time - I'm more eager for Avalon and Indigo than I am WinFS.)

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