Is Microsoft putting Windows 7 on a diet?

Is Microsoft putting Windows 7 on a diet?

Summary: As part of Microsoft's mission to insure that Windows 7 and Windows Live Wave 3 are joined at the hip, Microsoft is exorcising features that used to be part of Windows from the operating system


Until I had a chance to look at some new screen shots on LiveSide.Net of Windows Live MovieMaker -- yet another of the Windows Live Wave 3 services going to beta real soon now -- I hadn't really put two and two together.

The lightbulb that just went off: As part of Microsoft's mission to insure that Windows 7 and Windows Live Wave 3 are joined at the hip, Microsoft is exorcising features that used to be part of Windows from the operating system.

I had a similar, half-formed idea about this earlier this year, when I wrote "Windows 7 might go to pieces." But now it's crystalizing further....

Think this through: Microsoft has been hit with lawsuits (and threatened with additional new lawsuits) over its propensity to add formerly unbundled features to Windows. When I heard about its plans to tightly integrate Windows Live and Windows 7, I immediately thought that the company was opening itself up, yet again, to more potential antitrust actions.

But what Microsoft seems to be doing, instead, is continuing to gradually remove certain features -- like MovieMaker (which one codename tipster reminded me last week has been going internally by the name "Sundance"), Mail, Photo Gallery, Messenger, etc. -- from Windows and making them optional add-on services. (MovieMaker, for example, was cut from Windows Vista around the time of the Longhorn reset.)

Yes, these Wave 3 Windows Live services still have a software component (as required as part of Microsoft's Software + Service strategy). But to get that component, you are going to have to download the software onto your Windows machine -- or at least agree to install it if it's already preloaded somewhere on a new system.

Could Microsoft have found a way to secure one of the flanks that its opponents have used to keep the company in check in recent years, specifically, the threat of antitrust suits if and when the Redmondians decide to bundle any new bits with the Windows OS? Can you envision other formerly bundled pieces of Windows that Microsoft could and should turn into Live Services?

Update: In a September 6 posting to the Engineering Windows 7 blog, Windows chief developer Steven Sinofsky made a couple of related points. He said Microsoft is not going to introduce a role-based deployment model (a la Windows Server) with Windows 7. He also said Microsoft is going to continue to distribute the full set of Windows components as part of Windows 7, though he seemed to imply that some of these components will be on the Windows 7 disc and not configured by default. (I think that's what he was saying; I got lost about half-way through his 3,300+-word post.) I found it interesting Sinofsky -- who also heads Windows Live engineering -- didn't mention Windows Live at all, as it pertains to Windows 7....

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software


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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  • How did we not see this?

    This is brilliant on Microsoft's behalf. They do get
    rid of the anti-trust sentiments (at least the
    plausible ones) and still have their share in the

    Now, don't misunderstand me. It's going to take a lot
    more than this for Microsoft to "keep" the PC market
    in it's hands (what with all of this new free online
    software coming out [especially from Google]) but this
    is a good idea.

    That is if Microsoft is really planning this.
    • Don't worry about Microsoft

      M$ has a long history of remaining competitive. This will not change soon. I predict that Win7 will put the kernel on a diet, and move much of the "bloat" into Progra~1.
      • Who's worried about Microsoft?

        Most of us are terrified at what Microsoft can, and have proven that they will do, to our computers and our production.

        One must wear blinders in order to NOT see that.
        Ole Man
        • Over stated.

          "Most of us are terrified at what Microsoft can, and have proven that they will do..."

          No we aren't.

          I just love how when the anti MS sentiment comes flying it usually comes in flavours heralding the end of the world, or the eventual destruction of society as we know it. The scary thing as the overblown anti MS sentiment usually comes from people who should know better.

          The problem seems to lie in the fact that there is a certain core group of individuals in the IT world who have found that Windows is completely unnecessary for their purposes and therefore all of Windows shortcomings, for them, are nothing more then a blight to be avoided and derided at all costs.

          Those same people miserably fail at taking any notice that for a vast majority of people Windows is what they need and want because other OS's do some things differently and they do not want that, or simply cannot have that. Therefore in those cases OS's like Linux and OSX have shortcomings that are an intolerable blight if the same narrow focus is applied.

          So, this idea that "most" of us are terrified by what MS does is hugely overstated and simply is not the fact.
  • regedit

    [i]Can you envision other formerly bundled pieces of Windows that Microsoft could and should turn into Live Services?[/i]

    Almost any function that is rarely used by the Joe Sixpack market segment. Stripping out the unused functions and making them hosted services instead would solve a lot of Microsoft's problems, including those that result from handing a chainsaw to a kindergartner.

    The real challenge doesn't consist of finding things to separate, but finding things that can be separated [u]and not replaced by a competitor.[/u]
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Removing administrative tools ...

      ... so that your system cannot be managed effectively would be like putting the fuse box of your house in another city - stupidly useless ...

      Unfortunately, regedit is a tool than every administrator needs from time to time, and even more unfortunately, an increasing number of the "Joe Sixpack" segment as you call it are delving into places they should not be - would they try to fix their own teeth? No, but they do try to fix their own computer ...

      Administrative tools need to stay provided with the OS, Joe Sixpack needs to be told to keep his/her hands out ...

    • Competitors must be encouraged...

      ... so that Microsoft can avoid being subject to laws applicable to monopolies. So Microsoft must allow for replacement by competitors in each application.

      What cannot be eliminated are the capabilities used by developers because work is made easier and everyone has Windows. Part of the reason everyone has Windows is the wide range of applications.

      Microsoft is not working to destroy the network effect.
      Anton Philidor
  • I don't get this anti-trust BS

    iTune is sneaking Safari in my system. Acrobat Reader brings in Adobe AIR without telling me. GMail has GTalk bundled in, and not to mention their annoying spyware toolbars. Now if M$ packs in anything, it all the sudden causes anti-trust cases?
    • with 90%+ market share...

      Yes, that is what happens when MS (not M$) enjoys 90%+
      control over the computer OS market.
    • You are right, and they should all be brought to task.

      Best the uproar could get was the more publicly display the default install option for Safari checked, but Apple is simply acting like it can do no wrong. I don't have Acrobat, it is a huge ol dog (KPDF is 1/10th the size, 20X faster).

      They should all be brought to task. The difference with bundling into the OS though, there is absolutely no choice. You get IE, WMP, Defender, etc. You can choose any other MP3 player, you can choose other mail systems, but with the Windows default OEM for the consumer, you have no choice. (i.e. they are included, and the default until you pro-actively do something about it)

      Of the three examples, I don't have a problem today because everyone knows of the choices today. Back when killing Netscape (which Netscape made easy with their later browsers), the inclusion was entirely for that purpose.

      • Purpose of IE bundling wasn't to kill Netscape

        Despite the "cut off their air supply" emails, the real reason for bundling IE wasn't to eliminate Netscape. It was to make IE the next-generation application platform for Windows. You know, kind of like how people have been calling Google Chrome an OS platform unto itself.

        Don't believe me? Read the exhibits from the Iowa antitrust case:

        Aside from 2563 I don't have any specific pointers, but there are numerous exhibits which describe how Trident (aka MSHTML) was intended to be a single platform to replace Win32 as well as form the basis for products like Access and Visual basic.
        • Not true

          There may have been many documents which purported to show that IE was bundled inside the OS to improve functionality but its hardly likley that any technical documents would be written to show its intention was to subvert the competition.

          Lets just say that the accidental by-product of bundling IE partly into the OS and using undocumented API's was to make Netscape more than a little slow and unstable on occasions.

          As far as I remember at the time there was a determination to make sure Netscape lost market share by what ever means were needed. Maybe that's why MS paid $750 million all those years later.
    • The robber barrons drive on!...

      I notice that when I install AVG version 8 on client computers the Yahoo! bar it asks to install slows down all google searches from then on.

      The list goes on! There is no boubt the backstabbing will too!
  • RE: Is Microsoft is putting Windows 7 on a diet?

    I hope that this makes Windows 7 a leaner and meaner OS!
  • RE: Is Microsoft is putting Windows 7 on a diet?

    I have no problem with the idea, as long as MS gives us more options in the bargain.

    For instance, MS could/should be able to offer free antivirus, free Windows repair (think PC Tools), good defrag, compression tools, encryption tools, DVD decoding (not decrypting, just playing...), media sharing, basic media creation, graphics editing, greeting card-style basic home publishing, so on and so forth.

    Many of which Apple includes with Mac, and others of which are available from one source or another as free downloads, but Microsoft can't include lest someone sue them. This way, the extras can be tightly tied to Windows while not being "included" with Windows.

    Think of where Google is headed, with its versions of email, document creation, document sharing, mapping, image editing, etc, and now even a (blazing fast) web browser. Their Power Pack even includes antivirus and anti-malware, though through arrangements and not developed in-house.

    This "Live Wave" can let MS compete directly, without causing antitrust problems. Just offer installation links in the Getting Started window. A user can have as many features as he or she wants. Or a thin client (appliance control, in-car media, alarm clock) can have very few add-ins.

    Of course, Microsoft will have to get their charges under control for that broad of usage - I'm not paying $200 for the software license for my alarm clock, just so it can have a few dozen more media features and be web-connected. But Windows could offer benefits in such a situation, such as add-on VoIP telephony or home control modules for low cost and by third parties other than the clock manufacturer. With regular versions of Windows, not specialized versions that require special programming tools.
  • Provide option to include bundle

    If MS is going to start stripping programs out of Windows, I believe it should provide an option to automatically install them with the OS. That way OEMs / customers will have the option of having them installed with the rest of Windows - or an alternate set of programs. If I get a new computer, I certainly will not want to have to go through the work of installing and configuring a set of programs.
    P. Douglas
  • I think the diet is equally about UMPC.

    With Asus projecting by the end of year, and I think 8 for Acer, MSI Wind, Dell's new offering, and probably about 11 others, this is a market that MS can't sustain with XP Home. Even people who bought the Linux version planning to install XP are sticking with the Linux version, as one person put it, XP was the plan, but after using the Linux version, it is too plain and boring.

    This was for the Acer Aspire One on Amazon. You can read comments on all of them there, and the overwhelming consensus is, XP can work, Linux is easy and useful and works very well.

    Even those who are pro XP (and can live with the Home version), I have said since they came out, it will become a harder and harder sale to not concede this market with a deprecated, insecure OS.

    Some suggest that the UMPC components will, in a year, be able to handle Vista, but I don't see it. The trend is towards even cheaper (and less power) with MIPS, etc.

    MS is way too smart to ignore what, imho, will be 10%+ next year of the entire computer market. It could be much higher, but I think 10% is not unreasonable. Therefore, they simply have to have Windows 7, in some form (maybe fully stripped of all these components) work on these machines.

    • So Vista Home Basic will continue...

      ... into Windows 7. I think you're right.

      As shown by Home & Student Office, Microsoft recognizes the existence of a cheap-above-all market. Cheap doesn't mean $0. So +-$100 means OpernOffice never finds a market (except displacing WordPerfect et al in the anti-Microsoft market), and Basic editions mean Linux never quite crosses 1% of the operating system market.

      Without advertising money, alternatives can't succeed.
      Anton Philidor
      • "Without advertising money, alternatives can't succeed"

        Translation: Microsoft has enough money to buy, beat, or break any competition that exposes itself, so no one can succeed until they acquire more money than Microsoft has.

        Samo samo.... profit is the bottom line... just business as usual... nothing personal. To hell with truth, ethics, and morals, full speed ahead. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
        Ole Man
        • Translation:

          Without any money, Linux cant afford advertising and hence for many many years to come Linux will just look like a possible big scary error if the average consumer is thinking of going with a Linux OS they have heard little to nothing about.

          And despite the fact that MS has lots of money, Linux could deal a very harsh blow to MS; word of mouth about a free OS that operates as push button easy as Windows and can run games and allot of the most popular software so the "average" computer user doesn't have to relearn new versions of their 4 most commonly used and maybe favourite programs. Linux is getting there, but the problem seems to me that if Linux does get plug and play easy as Windows then its likely going to start incorporating many of the same foibles that the anti Windows crowd complain of.