Sinofsky to dish on Windows 7? Wishful thinking

Sinofsky to dish on Windows 7? Wishful thinking

Summary: My ZDNet blogging colleague Ed Bott's headline took me aback when I read it today. "Sinofsky dishes on Windows 7." What?!! Had hell really frozen over while I was at lunch?


My ZDNet blogging colleague Ed Bott's headline took me aback when I read it today.

"Sinofsky dishes on Windows 7."

What?!! Had hell really frozen over while I was at lunch?

I bet that Bott's headline amused Steven Sinofsky, the head of Windows and Windows Live Engineering, and Jon DeVaan, the head of the Windows Core Operating System Diviion -- the coauthors of the new Microsoft-sanctioned Windows 7 blog, as well.

While I think it's admirable that Microsoft finally plans to start talking in any way at all about the next version of Windows client, I have to admit I'm a tad skeptical about how much or how deeply Sinofsky and DeVaan plan to do so.

With the first Engineering Windows 7 post, dated August 14, we're already getting a taste of the tone that's planned for the new blog. From the welcome post:

"In leading up to this blog we have seen a lot of discussion in blogs about what Microsoft might be trying to accomplish by maintaining a little bit more control over the communication around Windows 7 (some might say that this is a significant understatement). We, as a team, definitely learned some lessons about 'disclosure' and how we can all too easily get ahead of ourselves in talking about features before our understanding of them is solid. Our intent with Windows 7 and the pre-release communication is to make sure that we have a reasonable degree of confidence in what we talk about when we do talk. Again, top of mind for us is the responsibility we feel to make sure we are not stressing priorities, churning resource allocations, or causing strategic confusion among the tens of thousands of partners and customers who care deeply and have much invested in the evolution of Windows.

"Related to disclosure is the idea of how we make sure not to set expectations around the release that end up disappointing you—features that don’t make it, claims that don’t stick, or support we don’t provide. Starting from the first days of developing Windows 7, we have committed as a team to 'promise and deliver'. That’s our goal—share with you what we’re going to get done, why we’re doing it, and deliver it with high quality and on time."

As I've stated before: Translucency, not transparency, is the watchword for the Windows 7 disclosure. Dish on Windows 7? I think PR vehicle is more like it.

Windows 7 has been in planning and development for close to two years now, if not longer. I understand that Microsoft wants to try to keep its competitor (it has only one in client operating systems -- Apple) off-guard.  But what about customers trying to decide whether to upgrade to 7 or wait for Vista Vista or wait for 7 (oops!)?  Or partners trying to figure out how they can avoid the incompatibility nightmares that plagued Vista for its first year-plus on the market?

The few times that Sinofsky has spoken publicly about Windows 7, he has not been, to put it nicely, very forthcoming.

As postings on the Windows 7 blog progress I will be the first to admit if I am wrong about Microsoft's execution. Hey -- after a lot of user outcry, the Internet Explorer team started turning that blog from a joke to something that actually conveys useful information.

Here's to hoping the Windows 7 blog will mark the start of something useful for  customers, partners and the Windows enthusiast community.

Topics: Operating Systems, Microsoft, 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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  • Marketing

    Mary-Jo, as much as I would love to see you eat crow on this, I have a distinct feeling that you won't. I think you are smack on with this post. It seems to me that right now Microsoft's mindset is marketing, with Apple's ads and Vista's perception problems being foremost on their minds. Reading the quotes in your post does sound like the same marketing type rhetoric that has coming from MS lately. It would be nice to see some good info come from these blogs, but I doubt it. Let's hope we are both wrong and Ed is right, for the sake of us corporate users who value the information. Microsoft can redeem themselves with Windows 7 by releasing an improved product without keeping everyone in the dark.

    B. Beck

    B. Beck
  • RE: Sinofsky to dish on Windows 7? Wishful thinking

    for everyone bashing MS for not informing the media and the consumers about Windows 7, what details has Apple provided for the next version of Apple? And the list can go on and on, just substitute Apple with any other vendor. No software vendor is obligated to provide details about a product that is still being developed.
  • Keeping it quieter...

    I think is a much safer and better alternative to how they just lashed out with too much and building up too much for Windows Vista.
    • Double edged sword

      It really is a double edged sword. Either tell the world what features are coming in, start the marketing campaign and run the risk of disappointing if things aren't viable, or keep schtum, don't release a thing and nobody can complain when something they said was included isn't included.

      It's all about finding that fine line.
  • All Quiet on the Western Front

    "Related to disclosure is the idea of how we make sure not to set expectations around the release that end up disappointing you?features that don?t make it, claims that don't stick, or support we don't provide."

    I think that is an admirable goal and for Microsoft's customers, I hope they follow through. My first thought upon reading it, however, was that sticking to the goal would leave them without much to say.
  • RE: Sinofsky to dish on Windows 7? Wishful thinking

    Mary Jo:

    Not to worry! You may have lunch,dinner,and breakfast many times before anything concrete comes forth on the BLOG that Ed Bott scooped you on!

    Two entries as of this morning!
    • Meaningful details? Not a chance.

      Bingo, MJ. Microsoft is so gun-shy after all the Vista hooha that there's not a chance they will over-hype (or even hype) 7. Although lots of people would like/need to know details for planning purposes, etc., the "cloak of secrecy" approach that is Apple's M.O. ain't all bad.
  • RE: Sinofsky to dish on Windows 7? Wishful thinking

    Maybe it's just like Longhorn only it's Vista being totally thrown out and redone. After all the builds of Longhorn with the new file system, improved desktop, widgets it was abandoned and Vista was born. Too soon and overhyped. The Vista capable lawsuit is ongoing. Maybe they don;t want that again, but I bet the kitchen sink that 7 will require more resources, tweaking and expertise than Vista ever though of. I am not interested in touch screens or more memory-resource hogging in a new operating system.
  • RE: Sinofsky to dish on Windows 7? Wishful thinking

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