The timetable for the launch of Longhorn has moved on a notch. Microsoft insider Robert Scoble - a so-called Longhorn evangelist - has called in his blog for 20 developers to become the team that destruction-tests the next version of Windows. And they needn't just be fat white guys.

"All will need to sign NDAs cause there are things in Longhorn that we don't want to leak out, but they'll be your proxies. They'll tell us where we're screwing up, what we're doing well, and will be world's top authorities on Longhorn," said Scoble, asking developers to nominate others to the 20-strong team.

Scoble said: "I don't have a formal process in my head yet, so I'm looking for help on how to pick a great group of people who'll properly represent the community. Now's your chance to make sure there's good diversity on such group, for instance, instead of just fat white guys like me."

The team will be known as Team 99 because, said Scoble, "Longhorn got its name from the bar that's between Whistler and Blackcomb up in British Columbia. 99 is the road you drive from my house to get up to the Longhorn bar. So, Team 99 is the team that'll take us to Longhorn's launch."

Microsoft has already previewed an early version, build 5048, which is aimed mainly at ISVs and hardware vendors, with the aim of solidifying their decision to write and applications for it.

The company reckoned that early summer is the timetable for the first beta, but it will be only one-third complete in terms of features, with the remaining holes to be filled by beta 2 after the September Professional Developers Conference. Expect final code to be released to manufacturing in about 15 months from now.