Who needs another Windows 7 beta?

Who needs another Windows 7 beta?

Summary: My ZDNet colleague Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is not too proud to beg to Microsoft: Can we have a Windows 7 beta 2 please?Once upon a time, I might have agreed with him. But now that I’ve had a chance to see how this beta cycle works, I think Sinofsky and Co. are making the right choice. One beta, one release candidate, and then ship it. Here's why.

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TOPICS: Windows, Microsoft
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My ZDNet colleague Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is not too proud to beg to Microsoft: Can we have a Windows 7 beta 2 please?

Once upon a time, I might have agreed with him. But now that I’ve had a chance to see how this beta cycle works, I think Sinofsky and Co. are making the right choice. One beta, one release candidate, and then ship it.

Why not have another beta release?

At the top of my list of reasons is the disruptive effect it has on the development process. Any build that is released to the public has to be locked down and then tested for several weeks. That’s a lot of dev and test hours spent on something that’s going to be thrown away.

But won’t an extra beta release turn up more bug reports? Yes, but more reports doesn’t mean more bugs. Many are duplicates of existing reports, others are disagreements over a design decision and will be resolved as “Won’t fix” or “by design.” The current beta release is essentially feature complete; a new build won’t expose any additional features.

The one example that Adrian uses is the recent dust-up over the implementation of UAC. In that case, the current beta did exactly what it was supposed to do, providing plenty of fertile testing ground and creating an opportunity for what diplomats like to call “a full and frank exchange of ideas.” Another beta won’t offer anything additional except perhaps an opportunity to have another debate over the implementation of that feature.

I’ve heard Adrian’s plea from other longtime beta testers, who are mourning the loss of an old Microsoft tradition, wherein a privileged few get access to interim builds not made generally available to the public. Sorry, but those days are gone. Thanks to the miracle of BitTorrent, any release that goes to more than a literal handful of trusted partners might as well be a general release.

The other big, perhaps inadvertent, benefit to the current development schedule is that it allows people like me time to actually use the product. In previous Windows test cycles, I spent half my time installing and configuring new builds, and after a week or two it was time to repeat the cycle. For Windows 7, I’ve had a chance to actually get to spend time with what’s changed (and to identify some annoyances that are still unfixed – more about that later this week).

Maybe, from a pure PR perspective, Microsoft would have been better off assigning the Beta 1 moniker to its PDC release last October and then calling the current release Beta 2. That would have been a pretty good mapping to the way things used to work, and it might have headed off some of the criticism.

With the current roadmap, Microsoft has set the bar for its release candidate very high indeed. If they blow it, there will be no shortage of critics ready to argue that another beta or two would have made things better.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft

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148 comments
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  • They may as well go straight to RTM

    because no matter what happens, we'll be patching the bloody thing for the next 5-10yrs.
    Custard_over_2x_Pie
    • Sing it brother!!

      If MS releases one more durned patch, I'm moving to Linux and/or OS X or any of the other Operating Systems that never require a patch or have a semi-regular patch schedule.

      /sarcasm
      rtk
      • You have no idea what you're talking about (nt)

        .
        InAction Man
        • Yes we do.

          Six major updates for Leopard and my Ubuntu box updates daily and you think we don't?

          Please. Spare us.
          Sleeper Service
          • Your Ubuntu box updates daily??? Just caught you lying (again)

            You're completely clueless about the frequency of updates in Ubuntu, I wonder why. Oh, I get it! That's because you've never used Ubuntu, or any other Linux distro. You inserted the cdrom just once and now you claim you used it.

            Your claims are **Ridiculous**
            InAction Man
          • Caught red handed he is...

            ...funny my box has not updated today nor yesterday that I can remember. Not to mention thats updates for just about every piece of software on the box...not just the OS.

            Another fraud Linux user exposed. :-)
            storm14k
          • Exactly. My last update was last week, only 4+2 KB downloaded.

            Occasionally the volume goes up to a few megabytes, but most of the times volume is very small. And it tells me exactly what will be updated and it only updates with my permission.

            Unlike windoze, no sneaky hugely monstrous updates are performed.
            InAction Man
          • My Ubuntu box updated yesterday.

            "sudo update-manager -d" updated me to Jaunty :-)
            Amelioration
          • No, son...

            ...it does.

            It may be updating the programs (you know, in the same way that MS provide updates for Office) but off it jolly well goes.

            No lies, no disguise, just the facts, ma'am.

            Of course it's easier to put your fingers in your ears and repeat your mantra of "Linux doesn't need updates! Linux doesn't need updates!" :)
            Sleeper Service
          • Re: Updates for software on box

            by that standard, most updates to windows are for software too. They're for the browser, or Office, or WMP and so on.

            And I get them almost every day, if not every day.
            notsofast
          • for some odd reason updates don't irritate me... (nt)

            nt
            ericesque
          • Actually it does...

            ..switch on, red arrow, update.

            Type password, off we go.

            Admittedly I only use Ubuntu every couple of days so it might be every second day or so but that update manager keeps on rockin'. :)
            Sleeper Service
          • Perhaps it's giving you that special treatment.

            It probably detects a <i>special user</i> and acts in a special way. Who knows?

            However, the experiences of those who use it on a regular basis are different from yours.
            InAction Man
          • Indeed...

            ...those who use it daily will see that, just like Windows, it updates periodically!

            I'm glad we sorted that one out! :)
            Sleeper Service
          • Liar

            1. Considering that Ubuntu doesn't post patches every day, how is it that you're updating Ubuntu every day????

            Tell us the truth, LIAR.

            2. How often does a Ubuntu update of one program BREAK another program, which is often the case (and sometimes, even BY DESIGN in the case of Windows updates -- specifically for the purpose of killing of a competitor's product through retrofitted incompatibility, a well known, illegal tactic which Microsoft has been caught doing several times before).

            3. How much does Microsoft give you (in $$$, "samples" and "free trips to XXX meeting/conference" to write this horse shit?
            akulkis
          • He already said...

            he doesn't use it every day. Calm down it's just an OS.
            Dave32265
          • Garbage

            I use Ubuntu at work, and there are updates every single day. If you don't see that, then you must have them turned off.
            notsofast
          • It all depends on how many and what type of applications

            you have installed. If you have a lot of pre-release apps installed then you can expect to see daily updates. After all a product with a version number like 0.1 or such is still in the early stages of development. If you have apps with 1.0 or greater on your machine and you have few of them then you probably won't see updates available that often.

            alaniane
          • nobody cares, sir (nt)

            nt
            ericesque
          • Enjoy paying to re-install.

            It obviously "fulfills" you ;-)
            Amelioration