Windows 7… Take Two… Or Maybe Three?

Well, looks like the early information on Windows 7 might be wrong.  According to an interview with Steven Sinofsky, Senior Vice President of Windows and Windows Live Engineering at Microsoft, there are a few details you may have heard that may not be entirely true.  But then again, it seems that Mr Sinofsky did tap dance around a lot of the questions asked.

First and foremost, the new kernel.  There has been a lot of buzz about the new MinWin kernel, which many believe to be integral to the next release of Windows.  However, according to the interview, that may not be entirely true.  When asked about the MinWin kernel, Mr Sinofsky replied that they are building Windows 7 on top of the Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista foundation.  There will be no new driver compatibility issues with the new release.  When asked specifically about the minimum kernel, he dodged the question, trying to focus on how Microsoft communicates, rather than new features of Windows.

So does this mean the MinWin kernel has been cut?  Well, not necessarily, but I do think it means that we won’t see the MinWin kernel in the form it has been talked about.  That is, very lightweight, and very efficient.  In order to provide 100% backwards compatibility with Vista, they likely had to add a lot more to the kernel, moving it from a lightweight, back into the heavyweight category.  This blog post by Chris Flores, a director at Microsoft, seems to confirm this as well.

The release date has also been pushed back to the original 2010 date that was originally stated.  At a meeting before the Inter-American Development Bank, Bill Gates had stated that a new release of Windows would be ready sometime in the next year or so.  Mr Sinofsky stated firmly that Windows 7 would be released three years after Vista, putting it in the 2010 timeframe.

Yesterday evening, at the All Things Digital conference, a few more details leaked out.  It was stated again that Windows 7 would be released in late 2009.  Interestingly enough, it seems that Windows 7 has “inherited” a few features from it’s chief competitor, Mac OSX.  According to the All Things Digital site, there’s a Mac OS-X style dock, though I have not been able to find a screenshot showing it.  There are these “leaked” screenshots, though their authenticity (and possibly the information provided with them) is questionable at best.

The biggest feature change, at this point, appears to be the addition of multi-touch to the operating system.  According to Julie Larson-Green, Corporate Vice President of Windows Experience Program Management, multi-touch has been built throughout the OS.  So far it seems to support the basic feature-set that any iPhone or iPod Touch supports.  Touch is the future, according to Bill Gates.  He went on to say:

“We’re at an interesting junction.  In the next few years, the roles of speech, gesture, vision, ink, all of those will become huge. For the person at home and the person at work, that interaction will change dramatically.”

All in all, it looks like Windows 7 will just be more of the same.  With all of the problems they’ve encountered with Vista, I’ll be surprised if Windows 7 becomes the big seller they’re hoping for.  To be honest, I think they would have been better off re-designing everything from scratch with Vista, rather than trying to shovel in new features to an already bloated kernel.

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