Yesterday, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) unveiled details about its next operating system, code-named Longhorn. The newest iteration of Windows promises, in the company's words, "increased security, performance, connectivity and scalability."

There's no question that the world's largest software maker can deliver exciting and useful new features with Longhorn, which would be available to consumers in 2005 at the earliest. But it speaks volumes that almost all of the talk since the unveiling has revolved around security. Yes, the world is so fed up with worms and viruses, patches and critical updates, that the biggest buzz surrounding the largest software launch since Windows 95 is whether the system will be secure.

Unfortunately, there's some reason to doubt just how beefy Longhorn can be. Although Microsoft has now made security a top priority, Gartner research analyst John Pescatore told NewsFactor Network that "there is likely to be billions of lines of code in Longhorn that did not go through the new due-diligence security processes Microsoft recently set up." In addition, Pescatore says the more features Longhorn packs in, the less secure it will be.

Still, the new Windows will almost certainly be far more secure than its predecessors. And to its credit, management says it will not rush Longhorn to market before it's ready -- something it's been accused of doing with past operating systems, in essence using consumers as beta testers. "This release is going to be driven by technology, not by a release date," Chairman Bill Gates said last month. "Which probably means it is going to be late."

Rex Moore owns shares of Microsoft.