Longhorn and Bull

Tired of viruses? Of lost files? Of Windows freezing up because your firewall is incompatible with your printer driver (before you updated it, the firewall was incompatible with the firewall). Do you want an operating system that’s easy, stable, and secure, but you’d rather give money to Bill Gates then Steve Jobs?
Have no fear. The operating system you seek is on the horizon. As you read this, Microsoft is busy creating the absolutely flawless next version of Windows. Codenamed Longwait, it will probably be released under the moniker Windows 2005…06…07.
(Why the codename? Because it’s a secret. No one is supposed to know about this version except Bill Gates, Microsoft’s programmers, and people who read articles like this.)
Let’s look at the many wonderful features that Longwait has to offer:
Users want security and stability, so it’s hardly surprising that the first thing you notice when you boot Longwait are the beautiful icons (assuming, of course, that it boots). Folders now look like the Mona Lisa. My Computer (renamed Bill’s Computer) is based on Goya’s The Incantation. The Systray’s tiny Windows Messenger icon is an accurate reproduction of the Sistine Chapel.

Hide and Seek
On a less visible level, Microsoft is revamping the file system, replacing the warn-out NTFS with WinSLS (Win Some Lose Some). More than just a file system, WinSLS promises to be an organizational storage platform where clusters of data (called “files”) can be grouped together in superclusters (expected to be named “folders”), then permanently stored in a special off-the-drive state (commonly referred to as “lost”).
Searching a WinSLS-formatted hard drive will be as easy as watching an annoying, animated puppy. Search for “Aunt Frederick,” and you’ll get every file that mentions her name. Not only that, but you’ll get every photo on your hard drive that includes Aunt Frederick, as well as those of people with similar complexions. Not good enough? You can refine your photo searches by right-clicking each of your photos, selecting Properties, clicking the People tab, and typing “Aunt Frederick” into the list of people who are not in that particular picture.
There’s no question about it: WinSLS is one of the most important and vital improvements within the Longwait package. Microsoft is now promising that WinSLS will not be part of the initial release. Even without WinSLS, Longwait will make file management manageable. For instance, click on a drive in Windows Explorer and you’ll see a bar graph of the drive’s used and free space—a major productivity gain over XP’s pie chart.
And you can forget about confusing drive letters like C:. Longwait will identify drives by meaningful tags like 0A88C507-9D61-49C2-AC98-CFF2B996F9FD.
Look at the desk or table where you keep your computer. Notice how the phone, the monitor, and the plate with yesterday’s food rise above the flat surface to varying heights? Technically speaking, this effect is called a “3D desktop.” Longwait will offer the same capability. You’ll be able to bring document windows up close so that you can study them in detail, or send them far away so that you can lose them under bills that you should have paid six months ago. You can even turn them on their side, allowing you to examine them from a unique, never-before-visible angle where they become—to use the technical term—”a line.”
And if the line is too wide, you can make the window disappear. Each window on the Longwait desktop has a slider for setting its “transparency level.” If the slider is all the way up, the window looks normal. Lower it a bit, and you can sort of see what’s underneath. Bring it all the way down, and the window disappears completely—along with the slider needed to make it visible again. For years now, user interface experts have called for a “transparent” operating system. With Longwait, Microsoft finally delivers on this never-made promise, offering a desktop where nothing is visible.
Security Blanket
What about security? Longwait will feature a built-in firewall guaranteed to let any data out of your system, plus a Security Center window to tell you things you already know. It also offers a good deal that isn’t in XP SP2.
For one thing, everything on your hard drive will be encrypted, including the program used for decryption, insuring that no one will ever access your sensitive data. And preparing a used Longwait computer for a new owner will be easier than ever—a Wipe Hard Drive button will sit right next to Turn Off Computer.
To protect computers from their users, Longwait will offer what Microsoft is calling Least Likely User Accounts. This setting will block people from doing anything potentially dangerous, such as formatting the hard drive, editing the Registry, or simultaneously running two Microsoft Office applications. But these users will still be able to, for instance, add a printer driver—a task that everyone agrees is perfectly safe.
Administrators will have no trouble remotely gaining full control of a system with a Least Likely user logged on. All they will have to do is send a single e-mail to that system with a subject line containing the word “v1agra.”
There’s no question about it: Longwait is the perfect version of Windows. It’s stable, secure, and 100-percent bug free. And it will remain that way right up until the day before it goes on sale.




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