Microsoft said it has synchronised development efforts for the client and server versions of Longhorn, the code name for the next Windows release.

The announcement came from Jim Allchin, vice president of Microsoft's platforms group, at the company's annual Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) in Seattle though he couldn't (or wouldn't) say when this might happen. Microsoft has previously suggested that Longhorn's release will happen in 2006 with a beta release early next year.

Allchin was, however, unclear about what synchronisation actually means for product release since, after Microsoft's previous hedging about whether there would be a server version at all, he announced that the server version would be released after the client.

Analysts from Directions on Microsoft said they still expect the server release to succeed the client, since it will need additional testing. Clarification came from a Microsoft spokeswoman who confirmed analysts' expectations. "Even with synchronised development cycles, a major release of the Windows server and client will almost always ship with some time-interval difference," the spokeswoman said. How much difference is still to be determined.

Despite the release schedule disparities, Allchin said that: "Today, the Longhorn client and the Longhorn server are tied together." Allchin also demonstrated client-side graphical and file migration capabilities at the event.