Windows Seven now has an official ship target -- 2010.
At Microsoft's Global Exchange (MGX) annual sales conference in Orlando this week, Microsoft shared a bit more -- albeit at a high level -- on Windows Seven, according to a copy of a slide deck I saw that was distributed to the field sales force during the conference. Among the information shared was that Microsoft is anticipating it will take at least three years from now to get the next version of Windows client out the door.
Last time anyone got Microsoft to talk dates about Windows Seven, the next big Windows client release, a Windows exec slipped up and said something about 2009.
Microsoft officials told MGX attendees that the company is currently internally planning Windows Seven. So far, the company has determined Windows Seven will come in both 32- and 64-bit flavors. No word on how many SKUs or any kind of guidance on features was provided, but Microsoft did say it would address both consumer and business segments with Windows Seven. Microsoft is mulling the concept of how to extend Windows Seven with subscription-based services, according to the deck -- more like Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), which Microsoft currently offers to its Software Assurance customers, than Windows Live, however.
(MDOP builds on top of the Windows Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktop SKU -- also only available to Software Assurance volume licensees. It includes: asset inventory, SoftGrid application virtualization, diagnostics and recovery toolset, advanced group-policy management and desktop error-monitoring capabilities.)
Maybe this talk of extending Windows with certain Software Assurance-only subscription services is what spurred the Gartner Group to predict this week that Microsoft plans to make Software Assurance mandatory? Not sure….
Before Microsoft delivers Windows Seven, it plans to roll out an update to its current MDOP offering, Vista Service Pack 1 and then another MDOP update, according to the deck. Microsoft made no dates -- tentative or otherwise -- available for these planned releases via the deck.
Microsoft officials confirmed the veracity of this Windows Seven information. (I know! Shocking! Right after I spent the week dinging them for increasing opacity!)
The long version of Microsoft's statement, courtesy of a Windows client spokesperson:
“As part of our ongoing outreach to enterprise customers and partners, Microsoft has begun sharing plans for how they will continue to deliver value to businesses in the future, including Software Assurance customers in particular. As part of this, we are sharing some preliminary information on Windows ‘7’ -- the internal name for the next version of the Windows Client OS -- as well as updates on other future Windows-related releases such as the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack. Microsoft is scoping Windows ‘7’ development to a three-year timeframe, and then the specific release date will ultimately be determined by meeting the quality bar. In the meantime, Microsoft is dedicated to helping customers deploy and get the most business value from their PCs using Windows Vista and related technologies like the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, and we’re encouraged by the response and adoption of these products so far.”
Short answer: Yes, it is going to take us at least three years to release Windows Seven. Longer if it's buggy and doesn't hit the "quality bar."
The Windows teams a while back set themselves the goal of releasing new versions of Windows client and Windows server every two years, alternating between major and minor releases. Microsoft's Office team has prided itself on releasing like clockwork new versions every 24 to 36 months.