Windows 8 starts to come into focus

Windows 8 starts to come into focus

Summary: I get questions periodically about whether Windows 7 marks the end of the Microsoft operating system road. The short answer is no. And there are two new Microsoft job postings for Windows 8 to prove it to the doubters.


I get questions periodically about whether Windows 7 marks the end of the Microsoft operating system road.

Some users wonder whether will Microsoft's next version of Windows be completely cloud-based? Will it be Midori with the Windows name slapped on it?

No and no. The bottom line: Windows isn't done when Windows 7 is released to manufacturing (most likely in late fall 2009). Windows 8 has been on the drawing board/planning stages for a while now. And as the "Codename Windows" blog recently reported, Microsoft is starting to hire developers specifically for Windows 8.

Codename Windows highlighted last week a Microsoft job posting from April 14, seeking someone to help with the next generation of the Distributed File System Replication (DFSR) storage technology inside the next version of Windows:

"For the upcoming version of Windows, new critical features are being worked on including cluster support and support for one way replication. The core engine is also being reworked to provide dramatic performance improvements. We will also soon be starting major improvements for Windows 8 where we will be including innovative features which will revolutionize file access in branch offices."

There's another Windows 8 job posting from April 16 that focuses on Windows 8 Server (a k a Windows Server 2011 or whatever it ends up being called). It's for another job focused on the Windows file system:

"In Windows Server 2008 R2 release, the Server UX Test team (under the File Server Management organization) is finalizing the MMC [Microsoft Management Console] based User eXperience (UX)/Interfaces for the File Server Role. Currently the team owns DFS [Distributed File System] Management, Share and Storage Management, FSRM [File Server Resource Manager] & Classification UI, Disk Management, SMFS. For Windows 8, the SSD organization is working on the next version of the file server.

"As the team moved to Windows 8, you will have 2 main responsibilities - (i) put on the customer/design critique hat as we plan our next version file server management experience (i) participating in the architectural design, and development and driving automated testing for managing the next generation file server. Our current automation does not meet the multi-machine paradigm requirement and so you will contribute significantly in the development of test automation to validate setup/configuration of the new server, managing configuration changes, performing diagnostics and reporting using Power Shell, Command line, Object Model, UI."

If Microsoft sticks to the kind of schedule to which it has adhered with Windows 7, Windows 8 will be released around 2011 (with Microsoft publicly promising a 2012 delivery target). While it's way too early to speculate what kinds of features will be in it, it definitely is in the works....

Any early requests for features/functionality you're hoping makes it into Windows 8 client and server?

Topics: Windows, Enterprise Software, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Servers, 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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  • Sheesh Let The Dust Settle From Windows 7

    We all want to forget Vista you know, and it's a pain to have to rebuild your machine every few years for an OS release if you've got it running fine.
    • They don't want it to.

      Something tells me they have learned from the whole XP attachment thing. They are probably going to try a steady pace of releases to keep people moving forward. Build a sense of normal anticipation about the next step once the current step is released. With XP I got to a point where I had not even thought about a future version of Windows. By the time Vista hype started becoming mainstream I already had one foot out the door of the Windows world.
      • Who really needs an OS per se?

        Email, instant message, word document, spreadsheet, surf the web. Any generic OS can do that and I believe the majority of computer users only need that from their computers. The OS is largely irrelevant now in this internet age.
        • Umm... no.

          Always need an OS. It is the software that allows you to interface with the hardware. Windows, *nix, OSX, BSD, or what ever form, iPhone OS, Android, are all OS's and they allow you to interface with the hardware. Without it all you have is a box with some wiring and circuit boards.
          • OS/BIOS boundries merging

            Eventually I think you will see a hybrid of the two and the traditional OS will be more of a GUI layer for the desktop downwards. Think KDE/GNOME sat on top of embedded Linux or a Windows GUI layer on top of embedded Midori with the embedded OS now taking on the functions of the BIOS. It's already staring at us with splashtop and hyperspace.
            Alan Smithie
          • Actually - the BIOS is going away.

            Even today, Windows and Linux really only rely on the BIOS to get started. Once they're up, they pretty much discard access to the BIOS unless it's really necessary.

            The BIOS these days really does little more than tell the OS what hardware exists and provides a UI to configure the hardware.

            Perhaps you're confusing BIOS with Kernel?
          • What I'm saying is.....

            In three years time it will be gone and the kernel will be embedded where the BIOS used to be, re-read the post. Vista and W7 still need legacy BIOS functions.
            Alan Smithie
          • Actually, There is Coreboot.........

            That's when the kernel and the bios are no longer separate entity's. Coreboot offers unique idea in that your no longer have something that you can't upgrade or tweak because some company decided the defaults. If you try to find a computer from 15 years ago I'll bet you'll find a option for drive A: and drive C:. Not a whole lot of room for other devices.
          • No Mac is an EFI boot sequence and maybe ados is going away.

            What we hear from the Mac owner's is the need for a Recovery Disc. And, the same with the o.e.m. companies for Windows should be supplying recovery discs with in the box nodes. This is so important today with what we need for consumer confidence and the cost of software that we purchase is confidence.
          • actually its evolving

            many systems have a basic OS built right onto
            the flash memory, with some instant on options,
            granted this is not a BIOS by the definition of
            the acronym B.I.O.S. but it evolved out of more
            advanced BIOS setups, I don't think it will be
            many more generations before instant on systems
            are standard.
          • You need the BIOS at power-up.

            The BIOS is an extention of the bootstrap loader (hence the term BOOT). The BIOS (for 'basic input/output sustem') serves one essential function. That is to load itself into RAM at power-up and then to look for a "boot record" on one of its designated input devices. The "boot record" then tells the BIOS where to find the operating system.

            Back in the day, once DOS was loaded, it used the BIOS to talk to the devices connect to the computer. Later versions of DOS could load devices drivers to talk to hardware connected to the computer but not known to the BIOS and thus not accessible until after DOS was loaded and running.

            With the introduction of premptive multitasking in Windows NT 3.x (1993), the BIOS was no longer sufficent to meed the needs of Windows. The exception was as a path to support legacy software which was still dependent upon direct access to the BIOS.

            Those days are long gone. The BIOS remains important but only for access to hardware at boot time.

            While dedicated "appliance-like" devices like cell phones, place their operating system directly into firmware - effectively making the BIOS into a full-fledged OS - doing so removes a lot of flexibility so don't expect the BIOS to go away altogether in generic computing devices.
            M Wagner
          • I think they meant...

            ...what does it matter which one you use...

            I understand the argument that many make. If you look at whats done by your average computer much of it can you really say depends on any specific OS?
          • You don't build a special OS for your minimal clients....

            It's not only really expensive to do that, it's unnecessary. It's easier to build a full function OS and then remove or disable the parts that are unneeded.

            For one thing, you're making a HUGE assumption about what the 'average user' uses. It looks simple at the top, but like an iceberg, it's just the visible tip.
          • Oh, you mean like...

            ...Windows 7 Starter Edition? Yeah, Redmond, don't insult us.
          • yea and most of that I can do on my phone...

            why do I even need a computer... oh wait...
            most everything I do on my computer I can't do
            on my phone, and won't run on linux or mac
            without virtualization which will slow it down
            too much anyways... so... not yet. OS is still
            relevant... I don't see and end soon.
          • Umm... yes, actually.

            Of course a computer needs an OS, but you completely overflew the point of the post. The functions he or she mentioned are the ones that people care about, and that's absolutely correct. Consumer-level users rarely DO anything with or to their operating systems on any platform. They just want to run the programs.
          • Umm, I don't think you got what he meant...

            Bud, he meant like these day all operating systems like Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and alike come with software like Internet Browsers, Instant messaging, Email clients, and other programs that people use everyday.

            He said the OS was irrelevant in the fact that they all pretty much do the same these days.

            But good job trying to look smart listing every OS you could find on google..
        • You're kidding, right?

          What the heck is a 'generic OS'?

          And as soon as you want to so anything complex you either end up writing your own libraries (Hello 1985) or you end up with a hodgepodge of inconsistent apps that have zero interoperability.

          As for 'this internet age'... the transport may be TCP/IP (and typically provided by the OS), but the user experience is OS.

          Unless you're seriously proposing there be one IM client, one spreadsheet... one of everything, your suggestion condemns developers to spend a HUGE amount of time reinventing the wheel over and over - or licensing it from someone else.

          How exactly is this *better*?
          • And what would we...

   this monolithic, "generic" OS? Hmmm... And what consortium would govern the creation, design, and implementation of this disaster? Oh, and you'd better round up all the hackers and malware writers in the world and ship them off to some nice cozy place like Siberia so that when this security hole laden wonder comes out it'll make MS look like Fort Knox!

            Linux is great, because of it's NON-genericness, I think "Windows" has BECOME the Generic operating system!

            Of course, if this ever does go into effect, I wonder if Negroponte would be interested in the project?
          • User experience is the OS??

            Only if you're not running any programs. Otherwise the user experiences the program. If you're using Firefox or Word, the OS is largely irrelevant. I did say "largely."