If you liked the Windows 7 engineering blog, you'll love the Windows 8 one

If you liked the Windows 7 engineering blog, you'll love the Windows 8 one

Summary: Microsoft kicked off a new Windows 8 engineering blog about a month before the company is expected to release a first widespread test build of the next version of Windows.


As the Windows team did with Windows 7, the Windows team is going to be are blogging about the engineering process and decisions with Windows 8.

Microsoft kicked off the new "Building Windows 8" blog with an August 15 introductory post by Windows President Steven Sinofsky. As usual with Sinofsky posts, there are lots of words (1,250 of them) and not much a Windows watcher would consider to be "news."

In fact, Sinofsky's post stressed that the purpose of the blog isn't about generating traffic, building excitement or "causing strategic confusion among the tens of thousands" of individuals invested in the future of Windows. Instead, "this blog is here to provide a two-way dialog about the complexities and tradeoffs of product development."

Microsoft also launched a new twitter handle (@BuildWindows8) to go along with the new blog.

Sinofsky described the purpose of the blog in his inaugural post:

"We've been hard at work designing and building Windows 8, and today we want to begin an open dialog with those of you who will be trying out the pre-release version over the coming months. We intend to post regularly throughout the development of Windows 8, and to focus on the engineering of the product. Welcome to 'Building Windows 8,' or as we call it, 'B8.'"

Microsoft officials have not shared a timetable for test builds, beta release(s) or the final RTM date for Windows 8. I continue to hear attendees of the mid-September Build conference will get either a developer preview or beta build of both Windows 8 client and server. The final RTM date for Windows 8 could be anywhere from April 2012 to fall 2012, from what various company watchers have heard.

Speaking of the Build conference, Microsoft may still have yet to post any information on sessions, speakers or party dates/times for its confab, but a number of us Microsoft bloggers have taken it upon ourselves to start filling up attendees' dance cards. If you'll be in Anaheim on September 14, join us at the Build Blogger Bash. (RSVPs strongly encouraged, but no tickets required.)

Topics: Browser, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, 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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  • I'm more interested in when they start taking real feedback

    A blog where comments are allowed is fine for general chit-chat, but I really hope they do have some kind of early feedback channel in place so that public beta testers get some kind of say in how features are implemented. Ever since about halfway between Windows Vista and Windows 7's release time, getting feedback in has been a major chore. Just look at the shortened Windows 7 beta test timeframe as an example: one beta, and one quick release candidate and then RTM. There really wasn't any way to offer feedback on feature implementation during that time. They would either fix bugs or say "feature is implemented as-is by design". Hopefully they open up the channels of communication earlier for this release. If they release developer bits during BUILD, they should release them publicly via Connect at the same time, and open up for a whole whackload of questions.

    This release is exciting, but I know I have many questions and suggestions that I'd like addressed before the final release, and I know others do too. Some of those will be answered during the sessions at BUILD. Others are more specific, such as deployment and hardware certification topics that relate to my business, but do directly affect how we implement it as a component of our products, and thus, how it impacts our customers (we are a system builder).
    • RE: If you liked the Windows 7 engineering blog, you'll love the Windows 8 one

      @Joe_Raby There was lots of feedback for Windows 7, just not for the public to be involved in directly.

      A) The majority of Windows 7's successes/features came from billions upon billions of sets of telemetry from the built in customer reporting tools in previous versions of Windows (especially Vista). Quite literially the users of Windows are the ones that made it better, by studying how they interacted with their computers. Basically mass anonymous crowd sourcing.

      B) There were groups of beta testers far before and during the "public" beta that were the main voices of tweaks and changes, hence why the public beta seemed nearly complete. This group has, as far as I know, never been disclosed, but you can bet the same process has been followed for Windows 8.

      I understand that a lot of people felt like "their" voices weren't "heard" during the Windows 7 beta, but they failed to understand that there was a lot more testing done without them, and the large majority of features existed for a reason.

      Frankly while Windows 8 might have a bit more input from these public forums, I would rather have a set group testing the OS for months on end out of sight, than to put too much emphasis on the loudmouths out there who think they know what's "best".
      • RE: If you liked the Windows 7 engineering blog, you'll love the Windows 8 one

        It makes sense that the telemetry provides mountains of data. It's very much the way an engineering company would work through improving a product - through quantitative data of patterns. But that leaves out somethings that aren't remedied so easily.
        Long Zheng of istartedsomething.com has a great section of his resources dedicated to a "Taskforce"
        such as http://www.windows7taskforce.com/
        or http://www.aerotaskforce.com/ & http://www.windowslivetaskforce.com/
        It's an avenue to provide real thoughts from people. Sometimes simple things and sometimes easy things but nonetheless, this is a great idea for an avenue of feedback.
      • RE: If you liked the Windows 7 engineering blog, you'll love the Windows 8 one

        @BucksterMcgee <br>If you see this link below (reading it carefully), I think you'll agree that it's actually easier to argue that Microsoft wasn't listening to anyone or anything in developing Windows 7 (at least regarding the up-front user experience). The article title sounds bat-poop crazy, but read...<br><a href="http://www.alphaila.com/articles/failure/how-windows-7-is-epic-fail/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.alphaila.com/articles/failure/how-windows-7-is-epic-fail/</a>
        Dario D.
      • RE: If you liked the Windows 7 engineering blog, you'll love the Windows 8 one

        @Dario: Some good thought in there Dario and ... quite a unique (if not difficult to parse) presentation format :)

        Be sure you submit your page to Microsoft once the beta program starts up. If you can, I'd suggest tweeting about this page and including the @ tags of people working within the Windows team.

        There's never a guarantee that any of your features make the bar, but every little helps ;)
      • Alphaila

        IMO, most of the complaints seem to be personal gripes.

        Now my personal gripes. :)
        MS's complete and utter inability to explain how to use it's products, is what led to the "Ribbon".
        A lot of these complaints can be overcome, the problem is that MS won't tell you how (even though the facilities are available/built-in).
        You have to visit web forums to find out the answers.
        Once I've found an answer I invariably think, "why didn't the idiots just say that in the help files?"

        Their chaotic placement of features, monitors, tools, etc. has been an annoyance to me for many years.

        <b>The "Training Video" link is a good idea.</b>
        I have often said to my friend, "I don't understand the lack of official training videos."
        I have noticed some appearing recently.

        I would like to be able to add info to the built-in help files.
        I find them to be pretty much useless now.
        You are generally better off doing an Internet search.

        The comments about the "Superbar" (cringe worthy name) are only partially correct.
        It is difficult to add certain shortcuts to the "Superbar".

        I have noticed a trend recently (amongst almost every software maker) of removing as much info as possible from their products.
        "Need to know basis and you don't need to know."

        I assume that this is to cater to the Smart Phone/Tablet market.
        Instead of producing a product to suit that market, they modify desktop software which reduces its functionality.

        Despite the large amount of "real estate"it uses (with the toolbars on) it has almost no controls and there are very limited options for rearranging the UI.
        <b>FF4</b> (and later)
        "One Button to rule them all" approach.
        Doesn't show the protocols in the "Awesome bar" (another cringe worthy name) any more.
        <b>Email Programs</b>
        A couple that I use <b>don't even display email addresses!</b>
        I guess email addresses are too difficult for Smart Phone/Tablet users to understand.
      • That's weird.

        Actually I can see the protocols now (I'm using Windows 7 and FF8a at the moment).
        <br>Maybe my PC glitched.<br><br>Strange I can't edit my previous post.

        It was the updates for FF8a that caused it.
    • Code is likely frozen

      @Joe_Raby Don't expect to make any major design change request, if you do, those will probably be considered for the next release of Windows after Windows 8. As for the public beta, use it for what it is, evaluation, a Windows 8 Forum on TechNet will probably be setup where you can discuss and help others running the beta, but don't expect it to be an avenue for submit feedback.

      When I saw Windows 8 demoed at the D conference, it pretty much looked like a baked product that they company will probably use its private beta testers to help fish out any show-stoppers.

      My understanding the folks who call the shots these days on DCR's are an elite group of testers and OEMs, they are called TAP (Technology Adoption Program), they probably have been testing Windows 8, providing the feedback on it since 2009 and testing early code.

      I just hope Microsoft understands, the Tile interface "MUST"
      be optional when I am on my desktop and laptop, I need to use my computer how it is intended to be used. If do any up purchasing a slate or convertible, they the new tile interface will most certainly be welcomed.
      • RE: If you liked the Windows 7 engineering blog, you'll love the Windows 8 one

        @adacosta38 TAP participants do not "Call the shots" on DCR's (Design Change Requests).

        A TAP program is a mechanism for Microsoft to work very closely with customers who want to get early-access to a product in order to understand whether or not a product meets their needs and scenarios. A large number of DCR's are often generated from each TAP program. <br><br>Some, but not all of these DCR's are approved by the product group - usually because they've seen the same feedback from other TAP/Beta users and/or an unexpected unwanted behaviour has been uncovered.<br><br>Features can and do get changed throughout the Beta. Some even get changed after RC, but the cost of making changes increases exponentially as the process of building the product increases, so changes at RC have to meet a very, VERY high bar.
  • RE: If you liked the Windows 7 engineering blog, you'll love the Windows 8 one

    The reason for Microsoft's windows 8 lack luster reception has most been
    been a giant user interface back peddle, early retro-ing of the user interface
    ( raise your hand if you feel clicking a picture icon is /that/ innovative,
    I was doing that, and a whole lot more, with my mouse, before
    Windows 95 existed).
    'reimaging' windows, err does that mean removing features?

    when Microsoft incorporated document management into Windows 95,
    they took a giant step forward, Bill Gates pocketed his first fifty bill $,
    but the user wasn't made aware of the user interface capability of
    document management ( scripting, for example, an automatic drag and drop
    of scanned documents which are subsequently retrieved for dual window
    or monitor database screen entry, ( this was back in the day's before a
    document management application was included with
    every copy of Windows 95 sold.) ( I bet the vast majority of
    Window's user's or developer's still didn't know much about these
    features, Trivia time, "The Windows 95 InBox, What was is supposed to do?
    ( Where was is modeled from?))

    The document management software from Microsoft exploded with Windows XP
    because document management indexing was made into a service.

    However, now, Microsoft is making a retreat, not because they don't
    have the true monopoly on drag-and-drop document management but
    maybe because Microsoft is still actually forbidden /by law/ to teach
    document management software technology as a Windows in-built application.
    ( what they already knew ( and copied from an elsewhere 90's windows
    3.11 drag-and-drop document management software company)
    ( I created customized drag-and-drop software in the early 1990's,
    several years before the Windows 95 debute, ( Bill Gates may recall
    a rented battleship in Massachusetts for a World's Greatest Top-Gun's
    of Document Image Management ceremony, I was a asked by
    a college buddy of Bill Gates to attend, while eating at The
    Top Gun BBQ grille, my buddy told me about the end of my
    non-Microsoft drag-and-drop document management career))

    Best of luck with Windows 8, ( Windows XP is becoming a secret
    anomaly of Microsoft , too bad the user's never really understood
    it's true potential, ( or did some, well anyway). no need to follow
    the engineering tradition of backward compatibility,
    just lock their data into a certainly very profitable future for Microsoft,
    nothing else matters, ).

  • RE: Microsoft Windows boss shares more hints on Windows 8 features

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