Sinofsky to dish on Windows 7? Wishful thinking

Summary:My ZDNet blogging colleague Ed Bott's headline took me aback when I read it today. "Sinofsky dishes on Windows 7." What?!! Had hell really frozen over while I was at lunch?

My ZDNet blogging colleague Ed Bott's headline took me aback when I read it today.

"Sinofsky dishes on Windows 7."

What?!! Had hell really frozen over while I was at lunch?

I bet that Bott's headline amused Steven Sinofsky, the head of Windows and Windows Live Engineering, and Jon DeVaan, the head of the Windows Core Operating System Diviion -- the coauthors of the new Microsoft-sanctioned Windows 7 blog, as well.

While I think it's admirable that Microsoft finally plans to start talking in any way at all about the next version of Windows client, I have to admit I'm a tad skeptical about how much or how deeply Sinofsky and DeVaan plan to do so.

With the first Engineering Windows 7 post, dated August 14, we're already getting a taste of the tone that's planned for the new blog. From the welcome post:

"In leading up to this blog we have seen a lot of discussion in blogs about what Microsoft might be trying to accomplish by maintaining a little bit more control over the communication around Windows 7 (some might say that this is a significant understatement). 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. Again, top of mind for us is the responsibility we feel to make sure we are not stressing priorities, churning resource allocations, or causing strategic confusion among the tens of thousands of partners and customers who care deeply and have much invested in the evolution of Windows.

"Related to disclosure is the idea of how we make sure not to set expectations around the release that end up disappointing you—features that don’t make it, claims that don’t stick, or support we don’t provide. Starting from the first days of developing Windows 7, we have committed as a team to 'promise and deliver'. That’s our goal—share with you what we’re going to get done, why we’re doing it, and deliver it with high quality and on time."

As I've stated before: Translucency, not transparency, is the watchword for the Windows 7 disclosure. Dish on Windows 7? I think PR vehicle is more like it.

Windows 7 has been in planning and development for close to two years now, if not longer. I understand that Microsoft wants to try to keep its competitor (it has only one in client operating systems -- Apple) off-guard.  But what about customers trying to decide whether to upgrade to 7 or wait for Vista Vista or wait for 7 (oops!)?  Or partners trying to figure out how they can avoid the incompatibility nightmares that plagued Vista for its first year-plus on the market?

The few times that Sinofsky has spoken publicly about Windows 7, he has not been, to put it nicely, very forthcoming.

As postings on the Windows 7 blog progress I will be the first to admit if I am wrong about Microsoft's execution. Hey -- after a lot of user outcry, the Internet Explorer team started turning that blog from a joke to something that actually conveys useful information.

Here's to hoping the Windows 7 blog will mark the start of something useful for  customers, partners and the Windows enthusiast community.

Topics: Operating Systems, Microsoft, Software, 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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