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Windows learns a thing or two from the world of blogging

As part of Microsoft’s efforts to promote its Windows projects, the Windows team is launching a new initiative -- a blog to promote its new upcoming Windows 7 operating system.  The new blog is titled Engineering Windows 7 and the first post went online August 14 at about 5 PM.  The blog is going to provide exclusive insight from Microsoft's development team about the progress of the OS.

The first blog, unsurprisingly, comes from Windows senior vice presidents Jon DeVaan and Steven Sinofsky.  The pair has already stated that official engineering details will not be fully discussed until October 27 at the Professional Developers' Conference in Los Angeles.  However, they hope to drop a few hints in the blog, along with getting feedback from what people hope to see with Windows 7.

The pair writes:

The audience of enthusiasts, bloggers, and those that are the most passionate about Windows represent the folks we are dedicating this blog to. With this blog we’re opening up a two-way discussion about how we are making Windows 7. Windows has all the challenges of every large scale software project—picking features, designing them, developing them, and delivering them with high quality. Windows has an added challenge of doing so for an extraordinarily diverse set of customers. As a team and as individuals on the team we continue to be humbled by this responsibility.

They also announced that the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, a week after the Professional Developers' Conference, will feature more technical details on Windows 7.  Interestingly the team seemed to allude to the hype and moderate disappointment surrounding Windows Vista, stating, "We, as a team, definitely learned some lessons about “disclosure” and how we can all too easily get ahead of ourselves in talking about features before our understanding of them is solid. Our intent with Windows 7 and the pre-release communication is to make sure that we have a reasonable degree of confidence in what we talk about when we do talk."

Mr. Sinofsky and Mr. DeVaan believe revealing too many tentative technical hardware details too early can be very detrimental.  Not only does it waste resources, they say, but it also confuses partners.  This argument seems slightly more logical when you consider that Microsoft has to work with over 10,000 hardware partners, each with unique needs.

Both say they will post "regularly" to the blog, to provide behind the scenes info.  They also promise to try to respond to selected user comments.  Mr. Sinofsky encourages readers to send him emails to his corporate email suggesting topics and suggestions for Windows 7.

While blogging is no means new in the Microsoft community, the new Windows 7 blog seems to represent a more concerted effort to use a public dialog to help it create its new OS.  With the blog expected to run through 2009 when the OS is scheduled to release, it should be interesting to see what tidbits of information it offers.

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RE: Not really bothered
By 306maxi on 8/15/2008 10:26:28 AM , Rating: 5
In all my posts on here I've never advocated upgrading from XP to Vista.

Thing is 64 bit support is still not the best with XP64 and in the very near future most enthusiasts will be using 4gb+ of memory. So 64 bit will be a must and Vista x64 will be the only reasonable choice.

Basically what I'm saying is that if you're going along fine with XP now then don't fret about not running Vista but if you build a new PC now then you'd be silly not to spec Vista for it.

RE: Not really bothered
By taylormg on 8/15/2008 10:50:49 AM , Rating: 1
The problem with Vista is that it was designed on the idea that computers will all be powerful computers and everyone will buy a new one after having one for a couple of years. However things have changed, all most people want is a computer to look at the Internet and do low resource hungry tasks. Meaning that they want cheap PCs, and with the uptake of cheap laptops and less powerful PCs being bought the quicker people are getting Vista off them to put XP on.

Also no business will use Vista cause they can not justify giving out computers that are powerful enough to run it. Working for the NHS HIS myself we are all not going to Vista at all as it is totally incompatible with nearly all of our systems, and not just the programs that we use but the server side as well.

This is the reason why they are getting Windows 7 out quicker, due to businesses not willing to use Vista. Now I know with any new Windows release it takes some time before a business migrates to it, but with Vista it will cost far to much money giving to much of a bad cost/benefit ratio.

RE: Not really bothered
By TomZ on 8/15/2008 11:04:40 AM , Rating: 5
Completely bogus logic and conclusions, because you are assuming that Windows 7 will have lower hardware requirements, which it won't.

RE: Not really bothered
By taylormg on 8/15/2008 11:11:37 AM , Rating: 2
What I am saying is that Vista is good for the home but not for Business, but Windows 7 will be good for both. I am not assuming anything, simple stating that Windows 7 should be able to work in both enviroments like XP can.

RE: Not really bothered
By TomZ on 8/15/2008 11:23:37 AM , Rating: 5
Again, I disagree. Windows 7 will not be used by businesses early on for the same reasons that Vista, and XP before it, were not when they were first released.

One reason is having all their hardware up to a level that is supported/efficient/productive to support the new OS.

Another reason is that new OS versions do not typically have highly compelling feature sets that make it a high priority for most businesses (business case).

And finally, IT staff needs a lot of time to perform compatibility testing, and to typically upgrade apps or wait for their vendors to do the same.

All of these reasons (and probably more), make it such that most companies are on the 'n-1' upgrade system, meaning that they are typically always running the previous generation of OS.

RE: Not really bothered
By overzealot on 8/15/2008 12:29:06 PM , Rating: 2
Or lower, if they can't afford to replace all aging hardware or don't want to retrain, ever. Or if it just works well enough
NT4 is still around in business, and will be until PS2 peripherals are phased out.

RE: Not really bothered
By Steve Guilliot on 8/15/2008 10:29:49 PM , Rating: 3
You're all looking at this wrong. Businesses don't roll out new OSs. They roll out new PC's on a revolving replacement schedule. The OS comes with the PC, not the other way around.

As long as Vista doesn't have any glaring compatibility problems with a business' IT infrastructure (or a user insists on XP, which does happen), it will be used on new PC's as they are purchased. Businesses won't upgrade old systems to Vista for the same reason they won't ever upgrade the OS without a compelling reason. IT pros aren't looking to make their jobs more difficult.

At least that's been my experience.

RE: Not really bothered
By Jimbo1234 on 8/15/2008 1:49:26 PM , Rating: 2
I disagree. Our IT department is rolling out Vista machines with this round of hardware upgrades. Vista64 that is. For any business that needs >4GB RAM Vista64 is the way to go. XP64 is dead, long live Vista64.

And what businesses need machines with >4GB? Ask any with an engineering or graphics department and they're running at least that. CAD / Graphics workstations have plenty of horsepower to run any OS.

Our non engineering machines are lower end Vista64 machines. Why does the secretary's computer need to be that powerful? To keep things more homogenous, aka the fewer differences in machine types, the easier the management. Oh, and the number crunchers our scientists use are beefy machines too.

RE: Not really bothered
By rudolphna on 8/15/2008 11:29:36 AM , Rating: 2
supposedly, windows 7 WILL have lower hardware requirements... Or at least wont use nearly as much RAM at idle as vista does. When you think about it, the actual "requirements" arent that bad (800mhz, 512etc) If they could just make it so that those would be feasible to actually run.....

RE: Not really bothered
By TomZ on 8/15/2008 11:35:44 AM , Rating: 4

In fact, one of our design goals for Windows 7 is that it will run on the recommended hardware we specified for Windows Vista and that the applications and devices that work with Windows Vista will be compatible with Windows 7.

RE: Not really bothered
By Spuke on 8/15/2008 12:15:32 PM , Rating: 2
Unless they drop in WinFS, I'll wait till there's no support for XP then switch.

RE: Not really bothered
By omnicronx on 8/15/2008 2:06:17 PM , Rating: 2
Windows 7 will not be released with WinFS, Microsoft has hinted that they may release a subscription based version with WinFS, but that is still up in the air.

RE: Not really bothered
By Klober on 8/15/2008 2:10:25 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting considering a DailyTech article that was posted the same day as your blog reference. From the article located at it is stated:
He [Steven Sinofsky] says that Windows 7's kernel will be an evolution of the leaner kernel from Windows Server 2008, which in turn was an evolution over the Windows Vista kernel.

To me this alludes to an even leaner kernel than Server 08 has, which is a leaner kernel than Vista has, and which in turn should equate to (theoretically) better performance on the same hardware than Vista currently shows.

Just another reference to throw in the mix to inspire further discussion. :P

RE: Not really bothered
By TomZ on 8/15/2008 2:30:08 PM , Rating: 5
That's interesting. Here what Sinofsky said:

The key there is that the kernel in Windows Server 08 is an evolution of the kernel in Windows Vista, and then Windows 7 will be a further evolution of that kernel as well.

And here is what Jason Mick wrote in his article:

He says that Windows 7's kernel will be an evolution of the leaner kernel from Windows Server 2008, which in turn was an evolution over the Windows Vista kernel. (emphasis mine)

So, I guess Jason is probably the one who thinks that these kernels have become "leaner," since Sinofsky didn't say that.

RE: Not really bothered
By Klober on 8/15/2008 3:06:42 PM , Rating: 2
Good call, I just skimmed through the cnet article looking for the info, and when I found it I guess I didn't read thoroughly enough to see the absence of "leaner". I should have known better. :)

RE: Not really bothered
By 306maxi on 8/15/2008 12:15:54 PM , Rating: 5
Oh god. Not another one of these posts. Vista will use lots of RAM @ idle because this is a good thing. When I first ran Vista I was running it of 512mb of RAM and it would typically use about 400mb @ idle. Then I got a PC with 2gb of RAM and typically it would use about a gig of memory @ idle. Got another 2gb of RAM the other day and suddenly Vista uses about 2gb of memory. You may be thinking wtf???? But Vista uses superfetch which caches commonly used programs in the RAM so that they launch quicker and by god it does work well. When you launch an app like a game Vista clears the cache of all unnecessary files and your RAM is free for the game.

RE: Not really bothered
By KingViper on 8/15/2008 1:02:12 PM , Rating: 4
Won't use as much ram at idle? Do you even know why it does that? Vista was optimized to use as much of your memory as it could at all times. Why only use 10% of your memory at certain times? It's a waste of having all that memory. Vista was created to use your memory for its intended purpose, to speed things up.

RE: Not really bothered
By Jimbo1234 on 8/15/2008 1:51:31 PM , Rating: 4
And does that ever work well. Autodesk Inventor fires up in 12 seconds instead of 40.

RE: Not really bothered
By KingViper on 8/15/2008 1:00:23 PM , Rating: 2
No businesses will use Vista?

I work for a company that employs over 7500 associates and we're all running Vista, and we're all running on laptops. Was all the software compatible when Vista came out? No, but that's not necessarily Microsoft's fault. Our company worked with software vendors and Microsoft to get things working and now we're running Vista just fine.

I agree, Vista uses a ton of resources out of the box, but with a little tweaking, you can eliminate most of the resource intensive crap that is set by default.

RE: Not really bothered
By silversound on 8/15/08, Rating: -1
RE: Not really bothered
By ATC on 8/18/2008 2:14:04 AM , Rating: 4
I think that's unusual. I work for a company that has only 5000 employees and it was only last year that we upgraded to XP. Shocking, I know. But speaking to friends who work for similarly sized companies and it's the same story.

It's nothing against Vista, it's just that so many large companies wait for the product to mature enough before even begging internal testing on it which is then followed, rather slowly I might add, by the roll out and deployment.

Personally, I love Vista. I cannot go back to XP. I'd love to see what they have in store for 7.

RE: Not really bothered
By Segerstein on 8/15/2008 5:31:06 PM , Rating: 5
I cannot see how applications that don't work with Vista will work with Windows 7.

The same way XP SP2 broke certain applications, Vista broke some. Mainly for security reasons, but nevertheless. The software vendors will update their applications by then to make it work with Vista.

There has never been an OS with greater binary compatibility than MS OSes. You can still run the old DOS applications on a new Vista :D

RE: Not really bothered
By cochy on 8/15/2008 10:50:52 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with that. 64-bit is very solid on Vista.

RE: Not really bothered
By Springfield45 on 8/15/2008 11:40:49 AM , Rating: 2
It amuses me that people dismiss 64-bit XP. I have been running it for quite awhile now. It is true that in the beginning, there was little to no support for it, but now, it is doing quite well. Unfortunately, most people wrote it off before drivers started showing up. If you can find a copy lying around, give it a shot. You may be suprised.

RE: Not really bothered
By Runiteshark on 8/15/08, Rating: -1
RE: Not really bothered
By 306maxi on 8/15/2008 12:17:18 PM , Rating: 5
It isn't as good as Vista, it isn't quicker, it isn't more stable and best of all it uses less RAM so it launches your commonly used apps SLOWER than Vista.

Google Vista Prefetch and you'll see why Vista is supposedly so RAM hungry and why this isn't a bad thing.

RE: Not really bothered
By Dark Legion on 8/15/2008 12:45:56 PM , Rating: 2
The same can be said of Vista.

RE: Not really bothered
By Jimbo1234 on 8/15/2008 1:53:56 PM , Rating: 2
Been there, done that. Benchmarked both XP64 and Vista64 for CAD workstations. Vista wins. Current versions of the software are now DX10 capable. The choice was easy.

RE: Not really bothered
By emboss on 8/15/2008 9:39:33 PM , Rating: 1
Ditto. I've changed my machine back to XP x64 from Vista x64 (which I had changed to from XP x64 in the first place) after about a year of struggling with Vista. I won't repeat my post about the problems I had with Vista (just look back at my previous messages), suffice it to say that compared to XP x64 it was slower (networking, UI response, too aggressive paging of active apps to disk), less stable (bluescreen about once a week, frequent Explorer crashes), and didn't really offer anything except DX10 (which was important for my work for a while, but now doesn't matter). Since changing back to XP x64, I haven't had a single bluescreen or Explorer crash, multiple desktops work properly again, and the only thing I miss is the new alt-tab functionality.

I should add that under low-concurrency conditions (including gaming), Vista was fine (though Explorer still crashed every so often). However, really pushing the system - 4 cores maxed out, 80+MB/sec over the network with multiple processes, GPU flat out doing GPGPU things, all at the same time - seemed to cause some problems. I might try Server 2008 sometime (yay for MS's trial system) to see if that's any better, but right now I've got more important things to do.

Finally, the OTHER 64-bit XP really is terrible ...

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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