Is Microsoft aiming for an early Windows 7 launch?

Is Microsoft aiming for an early Windows 7 launch?

Summary: Andy Patrizio at InternetNews.com has raised some eyebrows with his report that an “internal calendar” at Microsoft has June 3, 2009 as the planned release date for Windows 7. Isn’t that an awfully compressed beta cycle? It is indeed, and if the new schedule is accurate it's one more sign that new Windows boss Steven Sinofsky is running things very differently from his predecessor.

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Andy Patrizio at InternetNews.com has raised some eyebrows with his report that an “internal calendar” at Microsoft has June 3, 2009 as the planned release date for Windows 7.

That actually sounds pretty reasonable to me. Earlier this year, in my Windows 7 release date prediction pool, I picked July 29, 2009 as the date when I expected Windows 7 to go gold, and a pair of commenters on that thread picked June 1 and June 6, putting them in the catbird seat if this latest report is correct and Microsoft can stick to that schedule. (The consensus among pool participants after five weeks of voting was September 30, 2009.)

My colleague and ace Windows-watcher Mary Jo Foley reported last week that Microsoft is planning to make Beta 1 of Windows 7 available in mid-December. The InternetNews.com report suggests that a beta release (not necessarily Beta 1) will be handed out on October 27, 2008, the first day of the Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles. Paul Thurrott has a similar report, adding that Windows 7 Build 6780 is being targeted for PDC; Thurrott says this build is referred to internally as M3 (for “milestone 3”) and is currently being tested by Microsoft employees and among close partners.

If the June date is accurate, isn’t that an awfully compressed beta cycle?

It is indeed.

I assume those internal calendars are targeting the release to manufacturing (RTM) date for Windows 7. That would mean a beta cycle of roughly six or seven months. By contrast, XP went from Beta 1 to RTM in nine months, and the messy Windows Vista development effort took 15 months to go from Beta 1 to RTM, with a total of 11 Customer Technology Program (CTP) builds and interim releases in addition to Beta 2 and two release candidates along the way.

Anyone who expects that the Windows 7 beta program will be run like its Windows Vista predecessor needs to do a hard reset. Both XP and Vista were developed under the leadership of Jim Allchin, who’s now out of the picture. But can new Windows boss Steven Sinofsky crank the engine this fast without blowing things up? Perhaps. We’ll have a pretty good indication when we see what Microsoft shows off at PDC. If the PDC code is feature complete and stable, that would a strong indicator that the upcoming Beta 1 release will be more like what we’ve come to expect from a Beta 2 in previous development cycles.

And even if the June 3 date turns out to be on the money, this schedule would be downright leisurely compared to the one Microsoft followed for Windows XP, which was launched in October 2001, only 20 months after its predecessor, Windows 2000. As I noted earlier this year, Windows 2000 “went through the longest development cycle of any Microsoft operating system release ever.” Windows XP used the same basic driver model, file system, and security architecture as Windows 2000, adding usability improvements and and the now-familiar “Luna”-themed XP interface. That's a pretty good description of how I expect Windows 7 to differ from Vista.

A June 3 release date would be 855 days after the January 30, 2007 consumer launch of Windows Vista, well within the normal range for a new Windows release.  (See these two charts for graphical evidence.) Aggressive? Yes. Impossible? Not at all.

For Windows 7, I expect the beta pool to be far, far smaller than it was during either the Vista or XP projects, with confidentiality agreements strictly enforced, and I would be surprised to see more than four widely released builds before RTM.

[poll id=12]

Topics: Operating Systems, Microsoft, Software, Windows

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  • Do they have a choice?

    If only to dump Vista. Vista's image problems aren't going
    away, only reinforced by the equally poor Gates/Seinfeld campaign.

    But talk is cheap, and MS has a record of all talk little action.
    But given the lack of actual products they produce for their
    USD8 billion a year in claimed R&D spending it at least gives
    something for ZDNet to write about;-)
    Richard Flude
    • You're right, talk is cheap

      need I say more, Richard?

      Yak, Yak, Yak, Yak, Yak...
      John Zern
      • They'll release as their balance sheet dictates, not software readiness

        But they've been getting away with selling junk for far too long, and it won't pay off for them.

        Bye bye Microsoft. It's been horrible knowing you, you disgusting fat pigs.
        fr0thy2
        • Except...

          ..it does.
          Sleeper Service
    • The people who hate vista...

      would hate anything MS makes, for the most part. It's beyond ridiculous to suggest MS is ever going to make the internet coolie crowd happy.
      jamesrayg
      • Its good MS takes a different view

        There a number of posters and bloggers on this site who have defended Vista against the criticisum its received. The idea that people who criticise Vista have not used it or who hate MS is self delusional.

        Clearly the market place has been luke warm to Vista's charms. It lacks charisma and interest and offers businesses few benefits that will out weight the retraining costs.. Maybe that's why when people talk about its benefits they soon get to a set of features less appealing than would be a car manufacturer selling its new model on the fact that it had an uprated dampers and improved engine management system.

        Windows 7 will work if a new user can pick it up and know how things work intuitively and then smile when they get it right. It will work if they bring some excitement back to the product and not try and scam users into making extra payments just to get the full O/S. Your never going to make users happy by telling them they have to pay extra if they want a basic function like a decent backup system.
        martin23
        • Maybe their user feedback groups are organized into committees

          and before things get signed off some powerhead has to put in her/his ten-pounds worth in.

          Then starts the process of creating the code.

          "Oooh, we must use .mesh to write it in."
          "I reckon Java"
          "Oi, who said Java?"

          "What's it supposed to do?"
          "Dunno, shall we ask Marketing?"
          "Nah, let's just write some code for a few weeks and get Marketing to put their spin on it. We won't worry them about what it actually does or doesn't do."

          "Will the public like it?"
          "The who?"
          "You know, our customers, the consumers."
          "Oh is it that time already? I must be off."
          "Ok, bye Mr Ballmer."
          fr0thy2
          • lol! ;)

            Nice one, Frothy.. especially the 9 till 5 mentality at the end.

            It must be something like that, doesn't it? I have never been beyond the gates of hell ;)
            TedKraan
    • Sure, talk is cheap

      "But talk is cheap, and MS has a record of all talk little action. "

      Remind me that "This year is our year" talking. Somehow I forget who's the one keeping talking about it. Could someone pass me a hint?
      LBiege
      • Here's your hint...

        ...its you.
        storm14k
  • I'll be willing to give Win7 a chance

    Not like Vista. I thought 2 years before it came out, that Vista was going to be a bad joke, and I was pretty much justified. I've yet to buy it, and will never buy or have it pre-installed.
    <P>
    I have a different feel for Win7 however. It would be a good idea if they scrapped the bloat of Vista and made it with the Micro kernal I heard about, but I've been hearing that it'll be as big, or bigger than Vista. How wonderful to put so much of your computer power to run the bloat of the OS. I rather put that on the programs.
    <P>
    Maybe after Win7, they'll go back to the drawing board for a very lean, and practical OS...and yeah, pigs will fly too.
    <P>
    Maybe ReactOS will make them think differently.
    <P>
    - Kc
    kcredden2
    • I thought you were serious

      until you mentioned ReactOS.
      Nice try though, you guys kill me.
      tech_walker
    • I can see it now...

      When Win7 comes out all the Vista haters are going say ooohh, aaaahh, look at all those cool features. And the rest of us will scratch our heads thinking "Umm, that was already in Vista."
      mikefarinha
    • Agreed!

      Windows 7 needs to have two simple things;
      1) Good security.
      2) Low CPU usage.

      That simple, and. . .that hard.
      muehlbauer
  • Realistic?

    Considering Microsoft's history, why is anybody believing this is realistic?
    CobraA1
    • Did you read the story...?

      It talked about how XP came out sooner after Win2000 than 7 is coming after Vista, so why shouldn't it be believable? Not that it's a certainty though.
      jamesrayg
      • re: Did you read the story...?

        "It talked about how XP came out sooner after Win2000 than 7 is coming after Vista"

        Yeah, and after that, longhorn took how long to turn into Vista? Things aren't speeding up.
        CobraA1
        • If you're wrong its because its a totally different team

          But I voted for January 2011 when Ed did his release date poll a while ago.
          tech_walker
          • It'll be about global mentality shifts more than which team.

            Let's see if the fat pig can run off some fat.
            fr0thy2
        • You don't get it

          Longhorn was a major release. Original development effort was scrapped in 2004 (the Longhorn reset) and they started over.

          XP was a minor release built on 2000 base.

          Win7 will be a minor release built on Vista base.

          By your logic, whatever follows Win7 will take forever, but Win7 shouldn't need a lot of time.
          Ed Bott