Modular Windows 7 in 2009? Well... (and Q&A)

It's IT Blogwatch: in which Windows 7's might come next year -- or not -- and might have a new, modular architecture -- errr, or not. Not to mention the worst interview questions...

Eric Lai reports:

Microsoft Corp. has dropped two strong hints [last week] that the next version of its Windows operating system will arrive in 2009, shaving up to a year off previous expectations. It could also be a signal that Microsoft intends to cut its losses with Windows Vista, which has been poorly received or shunned by customers, especially large companies ... Responding to criticism that Windows has become unnecessarily bloated, the company has 200 engineers developing a slimmed-down kernel called MinWin that uses 100 files and 25MB, compared to Vista's 5,000 files and 4GB core and is so small it lacks a graphical subsystem ... To prepare its millions of reselling partners, Microsoft needs to start generating excitement about its software months or years in advance. But if it talks up Windows 7 too much, it runs the risk that large companies -- Microsoft's most profitable customer segment -- will hold onto their Windows XP machines and skip Vista entirely. more

FWIW, Paul Thurrott has screenshots:

A few weeks back, the first external build of Windows 7, the next version of Windows, fell into my hands. I installed it initially in just a virtual machine and took hundreds of shots, and that's what you're looking at here. Essentially, Windows 7 build 6519--dating back to December 2007--is just a slightly enhanced version of Windows Vista. My guess--and at this point, it's just a guess--is that things will change more significantly over time. But even in this early build, a number of interesting developments emerge. I'll have more to say about that in the days ahead. For now, enjoy this first screenshot gallery. It won't be the last. more

Joshua Karp is cynical:

Windows 7 coming next year ... That is, of course, if Bill Gates is to be believed. The founder and former CEO of the software giant indicated today that we should see a version of Windows 7 by June, 2009. The news was revealed as part of Gates’ presentation to Microsoft investors today, where he said that Windows XP would be phased out in June 2010, "or one year after the general availability of Windows 7". This might be as close as we get to Microsoft admitting that Vista isn’t quite so…impressive, but the 2009 Windows 7 timetable is pretty significant for a company that usually takes its sweet time with product revisions. more

Jack Schofield waxes curmudgeonly:

Headlines never tell the whole story, of course, but this looks like an example of what's known as "misleading by omission" ... Anybody with a working brain will recognise that "sometime in the next year or so" ... does not mean "in the next year" ... In other words, Microsoft expects to ship Windows 7 -- roughly -- in 2010 ... over the past 15 years or so, a good "rule of thumb" with Microsoft operating system announcements has been to add a year to initial estimates. So if Microsoft says 2010 and you assume 2011, you'll be right more often than wrong. Yes, it is possible that Steve Sinofsky -- the new guy from Office who has taken over Windows -- will actually get his first version out on time. He's good. But still, I'll believe it when it happens. more

Ken Fisher agrees:

He didn't say anything of the sort. What Gates said merely confirmed what we've all known all along: that Windows 7 is being developed on a three-year timeframe ... It's perfect "Chairman"-speak because it doesn't really tell you anything, but it gets the press and blogosphere hot and bothered ... nevermind that Microsoft's public relations wing says that Gates' comments do not indicate a change in the development process at Windows. The above quote is surely a sign that we'll see Windows 7 in retail in a year's time. (And if you believe that, I've got a patent on the semi-colon key I'll sell ya.) ... Yes, Windows 7 is coming. Yes, beta builds will probably come sometime in 2009, perhaps even sometime later this year. But for those of you jonesing for a new release of Windows, there's nothing new here to hang your hopes on. We're likely closer to two years away from a release, not one. more

Lance J. comments:

We've been studying Vista at work, and our decision for now (which holds through at least Sepember) is to stick with XP. All the new PCs have Vista installed, and we're downgrading them to XP before deployment to customer's desks. Thank goodness for Microsoft's advancements in deploying XP! The short story - we certainly don't want 1/3rd XP, 1/3rd Vista, and 1/3rd Win7, and that's what it is looking like when we don our future-hats. more

But Dev Corvin talks about what's in it:

Windows 7 takes a different approach to the componentization and backwards compatibility issues; in short, it doesn't think about them at all. Windows 7 will be a from-the-ground-up packaging of the Windows codebase ... there is one company which made a success out of breaking backwards compatibility, using a method which Microsoft are seeking to emulate with the launch of Windows 7. The company in question is Apple ... they're changing the way that compatibility is provided in Windows 7 ... the new legacy support won't be provided through the classic form of virtulization (ie, emulated hardware); instead, we'll be looking at very thin, dynamic, on-the-fly API translation, in much the same way WINE provides support for rudimentary Win32 applications on Unix platforms. more

Martin Blank ponders:

Vista ... [was] a great example of extraordinarily poor project management ... They were behind schedule, over budget, and missed their goals to an unacceptable extent, but they had to be able to recoup the investment, so it got pushed out the door. Meanwhile, Steven Sinofsky was over running the Office 2007 program, which delivered essentially on-time and on-budget, hitting almost all of the goals. (I know a lot of people don't like the interface, but that's a separate point from the project management.) Sinofsky was promoted to oversee Windows development, and inherited the mess left behind by Jim Allchin. The ... article alluding to a complete overhaul of Windows may well be his doing, an attempt to get the focus back where it needs to be in order to not have a fiasco the next time around. We may even finally see the emergence of WFS finally. more

But Microsoft's Paul Betts responds:

Dear Dev Corvin, In regards to your article: No.

And finally...

Buffer overflow:

Other Computerworld bloggers:

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/adviser/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You too can pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email: blogwatch@richi.co.uk.

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