Windows "7": What will Microsoft learn from Windows Vista?

February 10, 2008 12:25 am

Vista Service Pack 1 is in the can. It’s no coincidence that Vista SP1 and Server 2008 are “here” at the same time. They’re one and the same apart from the differences in “configuration”, i.e. Client vs. Server stuff. Server 2008 is the product that should have been released in a “Client” version under the Vista branding, but Microsoft caved to enormous pressure from the market and released it a little over a year too early.

Microsoft undoubtedly knew they could never afford to release a Server version in the state the code was in at Vista release. Corporations running mission critical things on Server would never adopt anything not rock solid. So Microsoft took the time they should have put into the “Client” version to finish things off properly for Server. Hindsight 20/20 and all that.

What can be expected of Windows “7” after this? My guess is Microsoft will cave to market pressure again and release something not quite ready for the consumer market. With Vista, part of the reason for releasing too early was that Windows XP seemed to be getting too old. For Windows “7” part of the reason will likely be a perceived need to catch up with Apple’s OS X.

With Vista, Microsoft was incredibly open about providing early builds to lots of people in order to get the quality right. And yet it wasn’t enough. It also seems that the biggest “achievement” that came from the openness was that people weren’t much impressed when the final product came out. In my view that’s a bit of a shame, because there are lots of truly great innovations in Vista (one of which is WPF). Microsoft will probably be more tight-lipped about Windows “7” as a result. They might take a more Apple-like approach and keep things secret until the last minute. Surprise the world when they release Vista’s successor.

The problem is that Microsoft doesn’t seem to understand what it is about Apple’s offer that makes it so compelling. It’s not OS X. It’s not iLife or iWork. It’s how it’s all wrapped up in an end-to-end package. Beautiful, well performing hardware; good OS; good everyday software with features that people find useable and useful, integrated with revenue generating .Mac Internet services. And all because Apple has control of the entire chain, from hardware to software and services. Heck, they even control the retail experience.

Microsoft doesn’t have an answer for that. They play a different game. They play in many arenas and with many, many different partners. The ecosystem Microsoft provides the basis for is much, much bigger than Apple’s. Microsoft can never be Apple. And I don’t think they should even try to be.

I’m hoping that Microsoft will not cave in to market pressure but chart their own course for Windows “7”. Perhaps kick off work for another “NT” project (from the Dave Cutler/NT 3.x days) and focus on creating an operating system that is focused on the total consumer experience. Throw away all backwards compatibility in the consumer market, if needed (ironically, sort of like Apple did for OS X.) Provide backwards compatibility through virtualization or by keeping a separate line for corporate mission-critical applications. But mainly chart a course that doesn’t look too much at Apple or Linux or anything else, but follows new visions for what can be done with software running on ever more capable hardware. They have enough smart people to lead the way. There’s no need to follow anyone.

2 Responses to “Windows "7": What will Microsoft learn from Windows Vista?”

Patrice wrote a comment on February 11, 2008


Microsoft should rethink Windows from the core, nah, from the soul.

In 2008, it’s hard to explain that formatting a diskette, printing over a parallele port printer or copying files between two usb drives takes top CPU usage. You don’t see this on a Linux OS. Heck, in 1991+, you didn’t see that CPU usage in Linux on hardware from those years!

The next version of Windows should not add pizazz or gizmos, but be 1) Extremelly stable and 2) Extremelly fast.

And by “fast” I mean; not by adding more optimizing software and tools, but making the core faster.


GeekTieGuy wrote a comment on February 12, 2008

In the case of copying files, there’s a very detailed and technical analysis of the changes that were made in Vista SP1 over on Mark Russinovich’s blog:
I happen to have the impression that the core is plenty fast already. It’s most likely all the stuff that’s been heaped on top of the core that causes some of the issues with performance.

Care to comment?

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