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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Longhorn Networking Revealed

The TechNet chat on Longhorn Networking Revealed has just ended. From what I was able to sit in on, I can say that it was an interesting chat. Many people had connection problems with the chat room, and I was disconnected about 10-15 times, with one disconnect lasting for 5 minutes before I could get back in. Asside from that the chat was very informative.

The team of experts were able to aswer many questions, and a transcript of the chat will be posted in a few days for everyone to peruse. I was able to get an answer to a couple of my questions, hopefully the experts will have time to answer the remainder in a week or so!

So the news for Longhorn Networking? The TCP stack has been rebuilt from the ground up, supporting both IPv4 and IPv6 in a single binary, as opposed to the dual binary that is currently being used to support IPv6. All on Longhorns applications will support IPv6 out of the box, and when given the choice of IPv4 and IPv6, will choose IPv6 by default if I understand correctly. There is a lot of work being done to secure wireless networks (much progress with Ad-Hoc networks), as well as the introduction of something I haven't heard of before: NAP. Essentially in a network, each computer will be required to prove that it is healthy (virus free) before gaining access to network resources. It's an interesting premise, and it will be interesting to see how it will play out. I don't really see this being implemented in a home environment... although there wouldn't be anything stopping you. Also, work is being made with intermittent or lossy wireless connections, although I did not read of many details in the chat, likely due to my frequent disconnections.

What I was particularly interested in is the Longhorn Network Awareness API (LNA2). This API allows you to get information about the current network settings, they type of network that is currently being used, as well as notices when these settings, or the status of the network changes. This will allow applications to be notified when network status changes, so that an application can seamlessly transition to an online/offline state based on the change. There are many benefits to this, such as being able to continue working on a document while offline. When you attempt to save the document to the network store, and the client application is offline, it will save the file locally until the application is notified that a network connection with the required resources is available, at which time it will save the file to the network store automatically.

There is an introduction to NLA available in Introducing "Longhorn" for Developers on MSDN. I purchased Introducing Microsoft WinFX from Microsoft Press which has the identical content found on MSDN, as well as an additional chapter on WinFS. Chapter 6: Creating Mobility-Aware Longhorn Applications gives a few examples of the benefits of NLA2, and I would suggest reading it if you are interested.

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