Don't be fooled: Windows 7 hasn't slipped to 2011

Summary:This is just a quick post to help guide those who aren't used to Micro-speak. Contrary to many blog posts you may have read over the past day or so, Windows 7's due date has not slipped -- at least not yet

This is just a quick post to help guide those who aren't used to Micro-speak.

Contrary to many blog posts you may have read over the past day or so, Windows 7's due date has not slipped -- at least not yet. This is the exchange between Microsoft and site WinVista Club that many sites have been quoting to prove that Windows 7, the successor to Vista, is running late:

Q: (From WinVista Club): "What is the expected timeline for the availability of Windows 7?"

A. (From Microsoft, via email): "We are currently in the planning stages for Windows 7 and expect it will take approximately 3 years to develop. The specific release date will be determined once the company meets its quality bar for release."

Here's how to interpret this Microsoft statement.

Windows execs have been using the "in planning" line about Windows 7 since last year. My bet: The Windows dev team will likely say that Windows 7 is in planning until the day it is released to manufacturing. Planning simply means not done; it doesn't mean it does not exist in bootable form, in the new "translucent" Windows world order.

Microsoft is continuing to tell folks it will take the Windows team three years to release Windows 7. Windows Vista was released to manufacturing in November 2007 2006. If Microsoft took the full three years, that would make Windows 7 a 2009 deliverable (and 2010 if you count from January 2007 as the Vista ship date) -- a ship target Microsoft first stated last summer.

But based on early Windows 7 screen shots, which continue to proliferate, it seems like the Windows team is leaning toward delivering a smaller, more finite release, rather than another big-bang like Vista. Fewer features means less time needed for development and testing -- not more.

One of my sources close to Microsoft weighed in recently with this observation: "Windows 7 is cleaning up some UI (user interface) and will feel more like a SP (service pack) than (Vista) SP1. In fact, it looks like the only changes will be around the Task Bar ('the tray') and not much else. There is a big push to take more (out of) Windows," not to cram more features into it.

I'm still betting we could see Windows 7 ship in 2009. Moral of the story: Every Microsoft statement about future Windows releases may not be what it initially seems.

Update: On January 29, The Windows client team decided to provide a bit more clarity regarding how to calculate its ship date commitment. A company spokeswoman provided this updated sound bite:

"We are currently in the planning stages for Windows 7 and development is scoped to three years from Windows Vista Consumer GA (general availability)The specific release date will be determined once the company meets its quality bar for release. "

Consumer GA was January 30, 2007. So Microsoft's official public statement remains that Windows 7 wil be released in 2010, three years after the consumer launch of Vista.

Topics: Software, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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