Microsoft: Windows 7 Will Fix, Avoid Vista Mistakes

Microsoft Corp. last week publicly demonstrated Windows 7 for the first time, and company executives said that the planned operating system upgrade will reflect lessons learned from the rollout of Windows Vista.

In a speech at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles, Windows development chief Steven Sinofsky said that some of the criticism targeted at the vendor over Vista was deserved.

Sinofsky acknowledged that Microsoft hadn't fully prepared its business partners for Vista's release, which resulted in incompatible applications and a lack of hardware drivers. It won't repeat that mistake with Windows 7, he said.

Microsoft also plans to modify its User Account Control security feature in Windows 7 so the tool is less disruptive than it is in Vista. Sinofsky said the company "went a little too far with UAC" in Vista, which can hit even authorized users with frequent pop-up windows containing security prompts and notices.

In an interview, Mike Nash, corporate vice president of Windows product management, said that Microsoft also won't make major changes to Windows 7 late in the development cycle, as it did with Vista.

"We're very disciplined this time," Nash said. In fact, a so-called pre-beta build of Windows 7 that was given to PDC attendees and will be handed out at this week's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference "is a feature-complete version" of the operating system, he said.

Windows 7 will include new features such as a touch-screen interface and a tool called Libraries that's designed to offer a streamlined view of files and folders.

But in an effort to avoid Vista-like bloat, most of the planned improvements are refinements of features in that operating system. And Microsoft is removing some bundled applications and making them optional downloads, although Nash said that Windows 7 won't be any slimmer than Vista is from a megabyte standpoint.

Public beta-testing of Windows 7 is due to start early next year, and the OS could be released to business users in late 2009.

Asked if he expects users to put off Vista upgrades and wait for Windows 7, Nash said Microsoft made "a lot of measurable progress" in Vista Service Pack 1. But, he added, "customers are going to make their own decisions."

Elizabeth Montalbano writes for the IDG News Service.

This version of the story originally appeared in Computerworld's print edition.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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