With the Windows 7 pre-beta preview now out of the bag - and our first review up - we took a little time to flip through the 4MB, 111 page, Reviewers Guide PDF. Microsoft Reviewer's Guides are provided to the scribbling gentry in order to gently guide the perplexed or fatigued into writing what Microsoft would like them to write, and normally run to a few pages of A4. This is the full-on 30,000 word brochure.
But what's most interesting isn't the size, nor the gleaming industry-standard happy people photographed in various conditions of bliss. It's what the company can't quite bring itself to say straight out. For example:
"Windows 7 provides regular progress updates throughout the upgrade process, with those progress updates replacing the “Your upgrade may take several hours to complete” text at the bottom of the screen in Windows Vista."
And this: "Microsoft continues to work with closely with it ecosystem partners, beta testers, and early adopters to improve the overall compatibility experience for customers. Given the significant progress the software ecosystem has made in Windows Vista compatibility— and the continuous feedback and telemetry data that Microsoft expects to receive from beta customers—the Windows 7 engineering team believes that Windows 7 is on the path to deliver a high degree of application compatibility"
Comes close to "Yeah, we messed that up too. Big time. But it's getting better. Really."
And then there's the ever-useful innate belligerence of inanimate objects: "Today, there are dozens of Microsoft Web sites that offer you information about Windows, making it hard to know which one has the information you need." It's the sites that make it hard. Not, you know, anyone in particular
But it's not all trying to say sorry and not quite managing. A lot just wasn't Microsoft's fault: ""When Windows Vista was initially released, not all of Microsoft’s partners had adapted their products to run well on the Windows Vista platform. This diminished many customers’ first experience with Windows Vista."
In fact, did you realise that Vista had been the starting gun for unparalleled innovation in, er, "devices"? Tell 'em, Microsoft! "In the short time since Microsoft launched Vista, the world has seen amazing changes in the nature of devices. They’ve gone from being single-function peripherals to complex, multi-function devices with a large amount of local storage and the ability to run applications"
Any idea what they're on about? It continues: "And they’ve evolved from a single type of connection -- such as USB -- to multi-transport devices that support USB, Bluetooth, and WiFi." Ah. Wonder if they're related to the devices mentioned here - "Although Tablet PCs with touch screens were introduced more than five years ago, new devices have revitalized the role of touch in the user experience." Can you tell what it is yet? Here's another clue:
"Windows 7 also introduces support for new multi-touch technology, enabling you to control what happens on the screen with more than one finger. For example, you can zoom in on an image by moving two fingers closer together, like you’re pinching something, or zoom out by moving two fingers apart"
Yes! It's just like an iPhone (there, I said it). Except - zoom in by pinching? Isn't that the diametric opposite to the way the iPhone multitouch does it? Egad. If only Microsoft had seen an iPhone - instead of one of these mysterious 'devices'…
Lots good in there too, of course, but the most interesting stuff -- application virtualisation, diagnostics, Powershell, security policy management -- is at the back. No happy smiling people. Which is odd, given that if that stuff works, it'll cheer up millions.