Hot on the heels of the humble Windows 7 Milestone 1 review at Neowin yesterday, an anonymous commenter appropriately named “MSBob” on this blog who appears as a Microsoft insider wrote a fairly extensive
comment essay confirming the authenticity of that review as well as revealing many other details about the current and future state of Windows 7.
There’s a lot of detail from the design of Windows 7, to the development teams, Windows Live integration strategies and of course the man, the legend, Steven Sinofsky who’s influencing the release cycles of Windows. And don’t forget Calculator, Paint and Notepad.
The review is real. Without Aero, however, the reviewer missed some of the good stuff that’s in the builds (mostly some new effects with the taskbar, and thumbnails).
The thing to remember, however, is that this is the end of M1 (i.e. milestone 1), and there are three milestones. There won’t be any major visual refresh until after M2 (i.e., everything will be implemented with the Vista look-and-feel until after M2). Whatever the new visual look of Win7 will be will be kept under wraps for quite a while. This is no different from Luna for XP and Aero for Vista.
Windows 7 is also the product of two teams working together: the WEX (or Windows Experience) team, which has primary responsibility for client releases as well as most user-focused features, and COSD (Core Operating System Division), which has responsibility for the kernel, networking, device support, and so on. COSD operates on a longer runway than WEX, meaning that work from that team will show up later in the cycle than work from the WEX team. Note: SteveSi is only in charge of the Windows team. Jon DeVaan runs COSD.
The other thing that should be considered is the relationship between Windows and Windows Live. Windows Live has taken ownership of most of the “service connected” features in Windows — Mail, Messenger, Photo Gallery, at a minimum. You can expect to see a Windows Live release in the same timeframe as Windows 7 that makes the “Windows + Windows Live” combination a killer one. Important note: Windows Live will be a strict add-on to Windows and it will take advantage of hooks provided by Windows that will be available to anyone. That was the promise when Windows Live was announced, and it will remain that way. So you will be able to install Yahoo stuff and have deep integration with Windows just as easily, as long as Yahoo chooses to take advantage of the new Win7 hooks.
That said, Windows Live is focused on more near term releases, so they are not doing deep plannng for the Windows 7 release right now. So it’s impossible to say exactly what that combination will look like. SteveSi is also in charge of the Windows Live Experience (WLEX or just LEX) team.
Finally, it’s important to understand one aspect of the SteveSi philosophy, which might be phrased as “there is always another version” or, more generally, the philosophy of developing release-rhythm. Under Allchin, Windows tended to get into the “big-bang or dot-release” mindset — each release either qualified as a dot-release (i.e. 6.0 to 6.1 — a minor update or refresh, usually ignored by the senior folks) or a “big-bang” release, which would try to change the world in one go. Very few dot-releases every lasted as such. Longhorn was supposed to be a dot-release to XP( that’s why it was named after the half-way point between the two big releases – Whistler and Blackcomb). The vision and scope changed drastically for reasons I was in no position to really understand. Big-bangs tend to collapse under their own weight (see: Longhorn .
SteveSi is a much more measured guy and believes in regular releases (though his idea of “regular” might still be long for some people). So teams will have visions that stretch to Win8, and you’ll see a first, thoughtful implementation in Win7, that sets the stage for Win8 (and also gathers important data about how the feature is used, to ensure that the complete implementation is better). Different parts of the product will get focus with each release, ensuring that there’s always *something* that is a killer feature, but there’s no attempt to make sure that *everything* gets an overhaul in every release. Over time, the whole OS will show improvements across the board, but the focus and long-term planning ensures that it’s a smooth upward path, not a series of spikes and (unfortunately) valleys.
This is the model that has been followed by Office for years — compare any release of Office with it’s successor and you’ll find small improvements everywhere and major improvements in one or two areas. Compare releases of Office over a longer time period and you’ll see huge improvement (say, Office 2000 to Office 2007). Even in Office 2007, while it looks drastically different, very few new features were added to the individual apps — the focus was on adding the ribbon to the core apps (many old features were exposed by the ribbon, which makes it look like much more was added than actually was).
Oh, and calc/paint/notepad are getting updates (i won’t say what), but they are pretty simple apps and don’t need to be re-written in WPF to get new features. Besides, everyone at MS is deeply aware that these apps are useful precisely because they are simple, focused and start up near-instaneously. No one is going to rewrite them in WPF just because they can and sacrifice the utility of those tools. Wordpad is a different story — it has no real purpose in Windows (it was originally more-or-less a sample app for MFC back in the Win95 days and really hasn’t been touched since, except to do security reviews), so part of updating it is to figure out how it fit it back into it’s natural place as a simple word-processing tool that sits between notepad and Word in functionality.
Of course this could be as authentic or as fake as the first, but I find it hard to comprehend why anyone wouldn’t be telling the truth, especially not with these many words to say about it. Some of the claims for example “new effects with the taskbar” I know to be rather true. If it’s not worth anything else, it’s still a fascinating read. What a great time to be anonymous at Microsoft.