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Microsoft execs have been reticent to talk about changes that Microsoft is making to Windows’ core “Fundamentals” pillar with Longhorn. But on Tuesday, a handful of Microsoft’s top Windows Longhorn networking officials opened up a bit.

Led by Jawad Khaki, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s networking and devices technologies division, the Microsoft Windows execs participated in an hour-long Web chat on the topic of Longhorn Networking.

Ironically, the chat, attended by nearly 300 participants at one point, was plagued by constant connectivity problems. Nonetheless, the execs provided answers to a number of high-level Longhorn networking questions.

Longhorn client is due out in 2006; the server variant is slated for 2007.

Microsoft has said to expect Longhorn to consist of three core “pillars,” or subsystems: Avalon, the presentation subsystem; Indigo, the communications one; and a catch-all “Fundamentals” category, consisting of enhancements to Windows’ core networking, security, performance and reliability functionality.

Microsoft is expected to release a Longhorn alpha around the time of its Windows Hardware Engineering conference in late April. A first beta is expected by testers this summer.

To read more about upcoming Longhorn features, click here.

Khaki opened Tuesday’s chat with a warning: “Of course this is all subject to change.” But he also shared an outline of Microsoft’s current Longhorn networking priorities. These included:

  • Delivery of a new, integrated IPv4/IPv6 stack optimized for low-speed wireless and multigigabit networks, both. Khaki said the stack will be extensible, so as to provide “easy integration with third-party products such as firewalls, parental controls and virus products.”
  • Built-in support for streaming audio/video for entertainment and real-time communications tasks.
  • Support for 802.11i wireless networking and 802.1x enterprise wireless scripting support. Microsoft also will deliver more troubleshooting tools for wireless users, officials said.

    Read the full story on Microsoft Watch: Microsoft Shares Longhorn Networking Details