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Microsoft announced on Friday, as expected, that it is cutting some of its planned Longhorn features in order to get the desktop version of the product out the door by 2006.

The Windows File System (WinFS)—technology that was set to simplify information storage and retrieval—won’t make it into the final, shipping versions of Longhorn client, company officials confirmed. WinFS also won’t be part of Longhorn server, the server complement of Longhorn that is still due out in 2007, as Microsoft announced earlier this year.

Company officials said they were not sure when and via what version of Windows Microsoft ultimately will make WinFS available. Microsoft has talked about Blackcomb versions of Windows as the next major follow-ons to Longhorn. But they aren’t expected to ship until the end of this decade.

“WinFS won’t be in Longhorn Server,” said Neil Charney, director of Windows product management. “But we are looking at ways of making it available.”

A first beta of WinFS is due out at the same time as Longhorn client ships, Microsoft executives said Friday. Microsoft isn’t yet sure how it will make these beta bits available or how they will work with Longhorn. The Windows team is expected to hammer out these details over the next couple of weeks, officials said.

Microsoft also announced on Friday, as expected, that just as it has done with the Longhorn communications subsystem (code-named “Indigo), it will make the Longhorn “Avalon” graphics subsystem available for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Microsoft officials said they expect to deliver the Avalon and Indigo versions for older Windows platforms in 2006, right around the time that Longhorn ships.

Click here for a review of the latest Longhorn build.

Longhorn is still slated to include both the Indigo and Avalon subsystems, contrary to some rumors circulating over the past couple of days. And Microsoft is still expecting to deliver as part of Longhorn updated “fundamental” APIs providing core power management, driver management, application installation/deployment, digital rights management and other basic tasks.

“It’s a good thing they cut WinFS,” said Robert McLaws, president of Interscape Technologies, the company behind the Web site. “Building an application on it today is terrible compared to building one on Avalon, which has gone through several revisions already. And there’s no room for error with WinFS,” as lots of Microsoft and third-party applications ultimately will make use of its data store.

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