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Longhorn specs: The Truth?

Dennis Sellers has a comment this morning on how Longhorn’s putative hardware demands compare with those of a Mac, pointing to a story by Mary Jo Foley which listed the specs, from an unnamed Microsoft source.
The spec itself is pretty high end. To quote Mary Jo:

Microsoft is expected to recommend that the “average” Longhorn PC feature a dual-core CPU running at 4 to 6GHz; a minimum of 2 gigs of RAM; up to a terabyte of storage; a 1 Gbit, built-in, Ethernet-wired port and an 802.11g wireless link; and a graphics processor that runs three times faster than those on the market today.

First of all, one minor caveat emptor: I occasionally work for eWeek.com, as does Mary Jo. I know her well enough to know that she hasn’t just picked this spec out of a hat. So where’s it come from? I’m sure that Mary Jo’s got this from someone in Microsoft, but the important question is where did they get it from?
Because those specs are very much not the ones that Microsoft is using now to develop Longhorn. Nor are they the ones that Joe Beda, one of the guys that’s working on Avalon, talks about here. And, as Scoble points out, don’t forget that Longhorn needs to work on laptops and tablets too, and they certainly won’t have anything like that amount of power.
In fact, I believe those specs were the ones that Bill Gates showed up on a slide at last year’s Professional Developers Conference as a machine that would be possible – and possibly typical – by the time Longhorn ships. In other words, they aren’t a requirement – they’re the kind of machines that Longhorn needs to be able to take advantage of. WinFS, for example, needs to be able to cope with terabytes of data smoothly.

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