Microsoft's next OS will have IPv6 built in

Microsoft Corp. is making IPv6 the foundation of its next major operating system release, codenamed Longhorn.

Longhorn, expected to be beta tested next year, with release in 2006, will be fully compatible with IPv6, with the new version of the Internet protocols turned on by default and used as the preferred transport, said Sinead O'Donovan, Microsoft product unit manager for Internet protocols. Users will be able to turn off IPv4 and run Longhorn with IPv6 only. There also will be support for the new protocols across Microsoft's product line of applications, she said.

O'Donovan, speaking at the U.S. IPv6 Summit in Reston, Va., said the Windows lifecycle is 10 years, and the next generation of Internet protocols is necessary if the new operating system is to survive for the next decade.

IPv6 provides larger address space than the currently used version 4, has integrated security and mobility features, and supports autoconfiguration, to help correct many shortcomings in the current Internet. Despite advantages to the new protocols and its widespread implementation in parts of Asia, the United States is only beginning to adopt IPv6.

O'Donovan said vendors must roll out IPv6 in their own enterprise networks in order to move the nation's infrastructure to the new version. She said Microsoft has done this to support development of Longhorn.

'Microsoft has the largest IPv6 network in the world right now,' she said. 'We eat our own dog food.'

The company began implementing IPv6 in 2001 and now has 40,000 hosts with access to IPv6. She said she hoped that within a year industry will begin adopting the new protocols and that other enterprises would be able to dwarf Microsoft's implementation.

Networks do not have to wait for Longhorn to begin deploying IPv6. Windows XP and 2003 support dual stacks with both versions 4 and 6. Many of its servers, including DNS, IIS, Windows Media Server and SMB Server, also support version 6, although they must have version 4 running as well.

O'Donovan gave no firm release date for the new operating system, but said Microsoft would adopt IPv6 on Longhorn internally as early as possible.

'We are really going to be aggressive on the Longhorn beta,' she said.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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