Don't be fooled: Windows 7 hasn't slipped to 2011

Don't be fooled: Windows 7 hasn't slipped to 2011

Summary: This is just a quick post to help guide those who aren't used to Micro-speak. Contrary to many blog posts you may have read over the past day or so, Windows 7's due date has not slipped -- at least not yet


This is just a quick post to help guide those who aren't used to Micro-speak.

Contrary to many blog posts you may have read over the past day or so, Windows 7's due date has not slipped -- at least not yet. This is the exchange between Microsoft and site WinVista Club that many sites have been quoting to prove that Windows 7, the successor to Vista, is running late:

Q: (From WinVista Club): "What is the expected timeline for the availability of Windows 7?"

A. (From Microsoft, via email): "We are currently in the planning stages for Windows 7 and expect it will take approximately 3 years to develop. The specific release date will be determined once the company meets its quality bar for release."

Here's how to interpret this Microsoft statement.

Windows execs have been using the "in planning" line about Windows 7 since last year. My bet: The Windows dev team will likely say that Windows 7 is in planning until the day it is released to manufacturing. Planning simply means not done; it doesn't mean it does not exist in bootable form, in the new "translucent" Windows world order.

Microsoft is continuing to tell folks it will take the Windows team three years to release Windows 7. Windows Vista was released to manufacturing in November 2007 2006. If Microsoft took the full three years, that would make Windows 7 a 2009 deliverable (and 2010 if you count from January 2007 as the Vista ship date) -- a ship target Microsoft first stated last summer.

But based on early Windows 7 screen shots, which continue to proliferate, it seems like the Windows team is leaning toward delivering a smaller, more finite release, rather than another big-bang like Vista. Fewer features means less time needed for development and testing -- not more.

One of my sources close to Microsoft weighed in recently with this observation: "Windows 7 is cleaning up some UI (user interface) and will feel more like a SP (service pack) than (Vista) SP1. In fact, it looks like the only changes will be around the Task Bar ('the tray') and not much else. There is a big push to take more (out of) Windows," not to cram more features into it.

I'm still betting we could see Windows 7 ship in 2009. Moral of the story: Every Microsoft statement about future Windows releases may not be what it initially seems.

Update: On January 29, The Windows client team decided to provide a bit more clarity regarding how to calculate its ship date commitment. A company spokeswoman provided this updated sound bite:

"We are currently in the planning stages for Windows 7 and development is scoped to three years from Windows Vista Consumer GA (general availability)The specific release date will be determined once the company meets its quality bar for release. "

Consumer GA was January 30, 2007. So Microsoft's official public statement remains that Windows 7 wil be released in 2010, three years after the consumer launch of Vista.

Topics: Software, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Wrong year for Vista RTM

    Vista was released to manufacturing in November 2006, not 2007. If it takes three years to produce Windows 7 then it would be due at the end of 2009, but that seems unlikely to me.
    • I don't think it's that far fetched

      assuming Windows 7 is not a complete rewrite. Figure a feature freeze in 8 months and a first public beta in 10 months (all of which is quite doable), that gives them a full year to work out the kinks and deliver an acceptable product to manufacturing. I'm not saying they will do that, but if what Mary Jo is saying about not trying to deliver a big-bang on every release is true, then they can do it. XP came out on the heels of 2000 mainly because it was a natural progression of the NT line. Other operating system upgrades are similar in that while there are noticeable improvements over the previous version, they are natural progressions rather than bombshells.
      Michael Kelly
  • I don't think MS has ever been on time for anything, have they?

    Why would they be, now?
    Kid Icarus-21097050858087920245213802267493
    • So change never happens?

      That's what you imply. So companies can never change?
  • In order for MS to shorten its release schedule

    Customers need to be able to insert a CD (or run a downloaded program) and know that an upgrade will just happen and will work every time. For MS to make that happen, they should steal a page from the Linux community. They need to stabilize their kernel.

    The reason Linux has been able to catch up with MS and other modern OSes as well as it has, despite the patent disadvantage, is because kernel and other hardware related software development is independent from user environment and user application development. It's been a while since Linus has released version 2.6 (four years), and there are no plans for a 2.8 or 3.0 any time in the foreseeable future. That's because it ain't broke, so he doesn't try to fix it. This means hardware drivers made four years ago will work just as well today as it did back then. That helps Linux in that when you have short release schedules, sometimes every six months or more, you don't worry about hardware that works now suddenly not working when you run the new update CD. Having the source helps, but if the kernel does not change from one release to another, the drivers will not need changing either.

    Compare that to MS, where blame is regularly passed onto hardware vendors for not releasing new drivers quickly enough (or many times, not at all) when a new version of Windows comes out (or sometimes even just a service pack). Well guess what. Nothing MS does will make hardware vendors play their game. Yet if drivers become a roadblock with every new release of Windows, that will mean shortening the cycle will be a nightmare as far as the customer is concerned. Things are supposed to be easier and better with a new release, not more difficult. So how does MS solve the driver problem short of demanding the source code from every hardware maker? Simple, they guarantee than any driver made and signed for the current version will work for the next five or more releases of Windows. And how can they do that? They need to stabilize their kernel. There's no new development going on there anymore. All the new stuff is going on in the user software realm. Each new release should concentrate on improving the user software and environment and keeping the kernel stable. Improving the user software will win customers and keeping the kernel stable will prevent the hardware makers from dictating Microsoft's release schedule.
    Michael Kelly
    • Continuing changes to the kernel

      Microsoft made extensive changes to the kernel for Vista, and will, I think, continue to make changes, including linkage to other products.

      Here's a summary of the Vista changes, in 3 parts:

      So I disagree with your comment:

      They need to stabilize their kernel. There's no new development going on there anymore. All the new stuff is going on in the user software realm.
      Anton Philidor
    • Not really...

      Your point about drivers isn't really that valid.

      Linux has two main frameworks for audio drivers, and work is under way to change the printer driver framework. Stability in the kernel isn't an end in itself - if you need to enhance a driver framework (which happens from time to time as hardware keeps developing new capabilities) you just need to take a hit sometimes.

      Case in point: Graphics drivers. The nVidia ATI slugfest over the last decade has resulted in a culture in which the two companies only care about the performance of their drivers, but not so much about their stability. So MS got tired of BSODs caused by their drivers and changed the architecture so that video drivers would run completely in user mode (so they can't BSOD the system anymore). Sounds like a good change to me.

      Further, any guarantee that a driver for x hardware works for the next 5 windows versions (approx 15 years) is extremely arbitrary. Most hardware is obsoletes 5 or 6 years. In any case, it's impossible to anticipate the factors that might change, necessitating such a move.

    It will be another bloat ridden pile of excess "features" that no one wants.

    Instead of attempting to force feed the public yet again with its irrelevant Bloat, why does the Redmond Dundheap simply allow users to choose whether they want all the Bloat?

    Of course, most would choose the stripped down version demonstrating the irrelevancy of the Bloatfarm.

    Again, who cares about Win7. Even before it is issued, it is an obsolescent saurischian offering from an organization incapable of purveying a useful applicatrion or OS.

    Wno cares?
    Jeremy W
    • That's Supposed to be the point of WIN7

      Most of the blogs and articles I have seen all agree WIN7 is supposed to be stripped down. Vista is bloated to death and really is not doing well. So they are trying a new direction.

      This also plays into the general concensis that applications are going to move more and more to the Web. Even Microsoft has leaked more and more that they want to move things off the box.

      Why does everyone want to move off the box, because once everything is off they box you don't have control anymore and they can charge you a subscription for it...
  • Is this WInVistaClub email even real?

    ive never heard of this site before! and i dont know who runs it, but this could have been made up!
  • Ship less features and improve the existing?

    Who would have though it?

    Very nice idea indeed. The massive upgrade threw everyone for a curve, so now we need to move in baby steps. I can see that.
  • Moral of the story

    Ms. Foley said: "Moral of the story: Every Microsoft statement about future Windows releases may not be what it initially seems."
    I think I would change that moral to "Every Microsoft statement may be Machiavellian propaganda"
  • Windows 7 will be like Vista: Too little, too late!

    By the time Windows 7 ships, Apple should have
    delivered maybe two more major OS updates that will
    blow past anything Windows 7 could possibly be - I
    could be wrong, but I sincerely doubt it.

    Microsoft speaks about Windows 7 the way the did for
    Vista, why should we think any different about
    Windows 7 than we did for Vista?

    Like Vista, Windows 7 will probably be a too little or
    too late of an update.

    Personally, I doubt it will be much of a big deal. iPhone
    like enhancements are already making their way onto
    Macs and should continue at an increasingly faster
    • So you can see the future?

      Yeah right. And I don't even like Leopard. Only a couple new features (some copied!) and the only major thing was Time Machine to me, and not even that worked well. I had to go back to Tiger.

      And yes, let's compare the last product, and say it's the exact same thing for future products of the same kind. Kind of similar to the iPod, right?
    • Who care about OS X

      I'm reading this blog for the Win7 content.
    • Oh please, save it!

      Nobody here cares or came to read bout your zealotry. You folks with the Linux crowd is what turned me so far away from your favorite Operating Systems in the first place.

      When will you idiots learn?
  • Pie in the Sky

    No one who already has a slice of Vista in
    the Valley is likely to buy a piece of 7 in
    the Cloud.

    “We are currently in the planning stages" is
    probably the most accurate statement
    Microsoft has made to date. Trouble is, they
    never have advanced to completion stage.
    They have never finished anything they've
    done so far. Still pushing out patches and
    secret "updates" to everything.

    Moral of this story: Don't believe
    everything you see or hear, and if it comes
    from Microsoft, don't believe ANYTHING you
    see or hear.
    Ole Man
  • anyway, PDC08 coming...

    I think we should wait for PDC08 later this year and hear all the news from MS itself. 2009, 2010, doesn`t matter. Vista is major release and Windows 7 WILL BE NOT as important as Vista. All those fools that calaim "Vista is bloated, Vista is ME2" - they simply dont remember talks about XP after it`s release. It`s all the same, I heard all this stuff (bloated, bugs etc etc etc etc) back to 2001. Basta!
  • No new features? Service pack that we have to pay for?!

    Microsoft promises plenty of intriguing features for Vista and then ends up cutting most of them out, now after that episode which has caused many to hold off on purchasing Vista Microsoft wants us to pay for another bare bones Windows release?! No way, I guess I'll just be sticking with Mac OS X and Linux for now...

    - John Musbach
    John Musbach
    • If you have to pay for service packs, use OS X

      I know - I use it. :)