5 things you should know about Windows 7

Reading Time: 5 minutes

All you need to know is…

… What you already know. In our society information is the greatest good. Microsoft has decided not to release a lot of information on Windows 7 for a reason. It was one of the mistakes admitted with Windows Vista. Some features (like WinFS) got dropped totally, while other features (like Palladium) were reduced to shadows of their former selves.

Steven Sinofsky, Senior Vice President of the Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group at Microsoft,  has carefully planned how information is going to be released on Windows 7. This is not how things were done in the past. Joe Wilcox speculates Microsoft's biggest reason not to talk is because it hurts Windows Vista sales, since consumers and partners might have a (good) reason to skip Windows Vista. Furthermore everything about Windows is fluid up until the time the product ships. Windows Vista became the Operating System with the reputation of dropped features. By keeping their lips sealed this mistake can be avoided as well.

Further reading

Are These Windows Transparent or Translucent?
Sinofsky Breaks Silence on Windows 7
What we do know about Windows 7
Sinofsky Talks Windows 7, But Just Barely
Communicating Windows 7
Microsoft's mysterious Windows 7 communiqué
Windows 7: Does the silence help anyone?


Fluid Features

Windows 7 will bring new features.. Microsoft, in fact, has identified five areas Microsoft has identified to improve upon:

  1. Specialized for laptops
    These features optimize laptop and tablet usage. Features in the final version of Windows 7 might include the multi-touch functionality as shown last week on regular hardware (Dell Latitude XT). The stuff in Windows Vista Feature Pack 1 (FP1) might be included by default.
  2. Designed for services
    Services as Microsoft's Mesh and Microsoft's Windows Live Services are good candidates to be integrated into the Windows 7 experience. The role of Windows might in the future be more of a starting step than it is now. Think Software+Services here.
  3. Personalized computing for everyone
    I have already talked about the Homegroup feature, but there's much more in this category of features. Together with the services above this might revolutionary change the way we access our data.
  4. Optimized for entertainment
    Going further than any Operating System has gone before, Windows 7 improves the entertainment features of Windows Vista. (insert Star Trek tune here) Home Media streaming and optimized playback are the buzzwords here.
  5. Engineered for Ease of Ownership
    This is the category of the System Administrator, Security Manager and CIO.
    It focuses on ease of migration, device compatibility and data security.

AeroXP.org featured a deeply inspiring dive into possible features inside these five pillars, but none have been officially announced. Long Zheng in a response cautions for too much optimism.

Further reading

AeroXperience – The Five Pillars of Windows 7
Understanding “the five pillars of Windows 7″
See the demo of Windows 7 multi-touch
Microsoft demonstrates Multi-touch
Video: Multi-Touch in Windows 7
Description of the Windows Vista Feature Pack for Wireless
Software + Services (S+S)
Microsoft’s Mesh Revealed—Sync All Apps And All Files To All Devices
Windows 7! Is it all hot air?
Will Microsoft Deliver The 'Wow' In Windows 7?


Kernels 'n' stuff

In the long run Microsoft is working on MinWin and Singularity, but these have nothing to do with Windows 7 whatsoever. One of the little information that left Steven Sinofsky's lips was Windows 7 will use the kernel of Windows Server 2008. (and thus Windows Vista SP1)

I've said before Windows Vista Service Pack 1 isn't a normal Service Pack. Where Microsoft released game changers when it released Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, Windows Vista Service Pack 1 introduced a different new kernel… unheard of in a Service Pack.

Please remember MinWin is a background project. As Mark Russinovich pointed out MinWin is technology that will find its way in Windows versions to come. Part of it has already found its way into Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 (according to the Shipping Seven blog) and the rest might or might not be introduced in future versions.

Further reading

Windows chief talks '7'
Mark Russinovich: On Working at Microsoft, Windows Server 2008 …
Windows 7 won't have compact 'MinWin' Kernel
'You Already Have MinWin'
Microsoft breaks silence on Windows 7; No new kernel!


Hardware compatibility

Microsoft is serious about making up for the mistakes, they admittedly made with Windows Vista. Some of these mistakes even date back further. When interviewing consumers one of the mistakes in the last category is hardware compatibility due to driver model changes. With the arrival of a new Windows version, suddenly their nine year-old printer stopped being supported and couldn't be connected to the new computer and expected to work.

Microsoft is traveling the rigorous road here from now one, demanding hardware compatibility checks for the 'Certified for Windows Vista' logo are also ran against beta versions of Windows 7. Even though the tests don't need to point out a flawless operation on the new Windows 7 builds right from the start, hardware builders and hardware distributors are expected to fix any shortcomings before Windows 7 reaches RTM.

Further reading

Windows 7 Will Be A Windows Vista Logo Requirement
Windows 7 beta testing to be compulsory part of Windows Logo program
[PDF] Windows Hardware Logo Program Requirements
The key to Windows success? It’s all about the drivers


General Availability

One might argue the General Availability date of Windows 7 is everyone's guess. Bill Gates tried to drop the bomb on us stating we would see Windows 7 next year last April, but Microsoft official quickly dismissed the idea clinging on to the old promise of three years after Windows Vista's General Availability, meaning 2010.

I don't think Microsoft will try to pull that rabbit out of the same Holiday hat again. One of the problems with Windows Vista was its General Availability date, which was after the big Holiday season. I think we might be seeing Windows 7 late 2009. When the development team is able to squeeze a couple of months off the November 8th date (November 8th, 2006 being the RTM date for Windows Vista) we might find Windows 7 in stores in time for Christmas 2009. Microsoft’s Windows team’s new mantra seems to be to underpromise and overdeliver. It looks better to say you will ship in 2010 and actually deliver in 2009 than it does to say 2009 and have your due date slip into the next year.

Further reading

Windows 7: Now a late 2009 deliverable (again)
Handicapping Windows 7’s effect on Vista upgrades
Windows 7 ship date? The crowd has spoken…
Windows 7 to arrive next year, says Bill Gates



Windows 7 seems to be about doing stuff right for Microsoft in contrast to Windows Vista. Choosing the right communication, choosing the right General Availability date and making the right decisions on hardware compatibility, features and under the hood stuff seem to be the five key ingredients in this process.

Disclaimer Beta Software

The information on this webpage applies to software from Microsoft that was in testing phase but utilizable by experienced users by the time the webpage was written. This software has not been released for sale, distribution or usage for the general public. The information on this webpage and the beta software are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose.

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