Microsoft's Windows 'Fiji' on track to debut before Windows Seven

Summary:It turns out that "Fiji" is, indeed, an interim Windows release and it is NOT Vista SP1. Fiji is the codename for the next version of Windows Media Center. And Microsoft's plan of record is to release this next Windows Media Center build "out of band," meaning in between core Windows releases.

With Microsoft constantly switching up codenames, it's tough to keep track of what's on and what's off. But "Fiji" is on.

As I reported a while back, "Vienna," formerly known as "Blackcomb" is officially known inside Redmond's hallowed halls as Windows 7 (or more accurately, "Windows Seven," kind of like "Oceans Eleven," according to one of my fussy sources).

Last year, I reported there was an interim Windows release on the books, code-named Fiji, that was slated to ship some time between Vista and Vienna. Others subsequently reported that Fiji was Vista Service Pack (SP) 1. Microsoft wouldn't comment either way.

Well, it turns out that Fiji is, indeed, an interim Windows release and it is not Vista SP1. Fiji is the codename for the next version of Windows Media Center, according to various sources and blog hints. And Microsoft's plan of record is to release this next Windows Media Center build "out of band," meaning in between core Windows releases.

So the Windows Media Center roadmap looks like this (courtesy of Charlie Owen, a product manager on the Media Center team):

Codename | Release Year

Freestyle | 2002

Harmony | 2003

Symphony | 2004

Emerald | 2005

Diamond | 2006 (this is the Media Center release built into Windows Vista Ultimate)

and now (my addition):

Fiji | 2007 or 2008 (?)

Carefully avoiding the "F" word, Owen blogged on March 14:

"Diamond is the version of Windows Media Center which ships with Windows Vista, and is the only version of Windows Media Center (to date) which was synced with a major version of Windows. All prior releases were 'Windows Out Of Band Release' projects -- meaning they weren't necessarily tied to a particular shipping date of Windows (or a Windows service pack). Our next version is yet another out of band release and (generally speaking) the team is pretty happy about that because it allows us to get back on our (approximate) yearly schedule of delivering goodness to customers (it was a major feat of engineering load balancing for us to be simultaneously working on 'Emerald' and 'Diamond' at the same time -- a story for some other time). For the obvious follow up: Sorry, no dates or specific milestones to share, and past performance is not indicative of future release dates. Suffice it to say we are hard at work defining and coding the next version."

I have a lot of questions -- none of which Microsoft is ready to answer, I'm sure:

* What is the internal ship target for Fiji? (I am hearing post Vista SP1, which is supposedly "latter half of 2007.)

* What new features will be in Fiji?

* Why is the Media Center team going back to its "out of band" release strategy? Was Diamond/Vista just a one-time aberration?

* Is this change permanent -- i.e., are attempts by Microsoft to sync up Media Center with core Windows client releases a thing of the past (and part of the grand plan to speed up Windows client development/delivery)?

* Will Microsoft also release a Tablet-PC-centric version of Windows out of band?

I submitted my short list of questions to the Microsoft powers-that-be. The response: "No comment."

(And a hat tip to my ZDNet blogging colleague Ed Bott for help deciphering the ever-changing Windows-release roadmap.)

Topics: 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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