An Open Letter to Microsoft
I've been running Windows 7 beta 1 for now eight weeks and I've put this beta thorough a serious workout. I've done my bit testing the OS (even loading it onto my new Dell Studio XPS 13) and submitted feedback, like I'm supposed to. I've also had, through unofficial channels, builds that have come after the official beta 1 build 7000 code, and I've tested those too. Things look like they are coming quite well. But before we jump to a Release Candidate and start getting caught up in "RTM fever" I'd like to see a beta 2 of Windows 7 please.
So far we've had one official beta and when it comes to something as big and as important as an OS, I really don't think that one beta is enough. Not only am I curious to see what progress has been made and would like a chance to offer feedback on the changes that have been made as a result of user feedback on beta 1, I want reassurances that the current issues have been solved, and that no more bugs have popped up in the meantime. After all, the beta 1 of Windows 7 shook out a lot of bugs (an awful lot of which still seem to be listed as active ...), and while most of these issues were minor, some turned out to be very serious. I don't want to get to RTM and find similar issues cropping up. I definitely don't want a repeat of the Vista debacle where I had to wait until SP1 before getting a solid, reliable and stable OS that outperformed the previous version of Windows.
I think that it's also only fair to point out that there's a growing level of dissatisfaction among beta testers on many blogs, forums and websites. Some feel that only having one beta limits the amount of feedback they can give on the OS, while others feel that bug reports are falling on deaf ears and being marked as "by design" or "won't fix" rather than being dealt with. Given how difficult it was (and how much fuss had to be kicked up) to get the serious UAC flaw that Long Zheng uncovered fixed, I have to say I find any sort of hint that feedback isn't being acted on worrying. There was far too much confusion over what was really a simple issue and I'm almost certain that if there hadn't been extensive coverage of this issue by the tech media that this flaw would have been marked as "by design" and ignored.
I also feel that the spirit of beta testing has been eroded with Windows 7. Both beta testers on Connect and the public got their hands on the beta 1 bits at pretty much the same time. Experienced beta testers aren't getting access to any new builds to be able to see progress. The Windows 7 beta test has felt more like a technology preview rather than a proper beta test cycle. Sure, with Windows 7 we got the e7 blog which gave us all a behind the scenes peek at the development process, but at the end of the day it's the code that matters. I'm worried that beta testers haven't seen enough official beta code yet to fully test the OS (and the fixes being carried out) under the broadest possible hardware and software configurations.
Getting to see a beta 2 and having the chance to see that our feedback is being acted on (as well as being able to submit more feedback) makes a lot of sense to me. If nothing else, it would be reassuring to Sure, it might push back the release data a bit, but since officially the date has always been a vague 2010, it doesn't matter.
So, how about a beta 2? It would certainly make me feel reassured that things are truly on track for a great release.