Microsoft PDC, WinHEC will be Windows 7 coming-out parties

Developers will get their first detail look at the operating system in October

Microsoft Corp. has been fairly reticent about the development of the next client version of Windows, code-named Windows 7. But in a blog entry Thursday, Microsoft said it will finally give developers their first in-depth look at the operating system at its forthcoming Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in October.

The PDC and the annual Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) the following week "both represent the first venues where we will provide in-depth technical information about Windows 7," according to a blog post attributed to Steven Sinofsky and Jon DeVaan, the two Windows 7 senior engineering team leaders, on the new Engineering Windows 7 company blog.

Microsoft is scheduled to hold its PDC from Oct. 26 to 29, while WinHEC is scheduled for Nov. 5 to 7. Both are to be held in Los Angeles.

According to the post, the blog will provide "regular posts" over the next two-plus months about the "behind-the-scenes development of the release." The posts will continue through the release of the product.

Through its public relations firm, Microsoft said the Engineering Windows 7 blog will be used "mainly to open a line of two-way communication between the Windows 7 engineering team and Windows developers." It also will provide information on how Microsoft is building the operating system.

It remains to be seen whether Microsoft will use the blog to be more forthcoming to developers and users about what features will be in Windows 7. The company has been fairly secretive so far about the operating system -- which is expected to be available in early 2010 -- providing only bits and pieces of information about what it might look like.

Microsoft has publicly demonstrated that Windows 7 will have touch-screen features and said it would include technology linking its Windows Live services directly to the operating system. Executives also have hinted that Windows 7 will include native virtualization technology. This makes sense because Microsoft has been stepping up its efforts to provide not only operating system virtualization, but also application and desktop virtualization. The latter two technologies would help to remedy application-compatibility issues the company has faced with previous versions of the Windows client operating system, particularly Windows Vista.

Sinofsky and DeVaan gave some reasons for Microsoft's relative silence about Windows 7 so far, noting that the company has hurt itself in the past by talking about Windows features before they were fully baked.

"We, as a team, definitely learned some lessons about 'disclosure' and how we can all too easily get ahead of ourselves in talking about features before our understanding of them is solid," they wrote. "Our intent with Windows 7 and the prerelease communication is to make sure that we have a reasonable degree of confidence in what we talk about when we do talk."

In the past, Microsoft has announced features of Windows only to have to pull them out before the final release of the operating system, a practice the drew the ire of developers and users. For example, Windows Server 2008, released in February, was originally supposed to have a built-in hypervisor for virtualizing software. The company did not release that technology, called Hyper-V, until several months later.

Vista, too, suffered from overhyped expectations in its five-plus years of development, when features that Microsoft said would be in the operating system early in the development cycle didn't make it into the final product.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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