Microsoft learned some hard lessons with Windows Vista that it already is applying to Windows 7.
That's according to Mike Nash, Corporate Vice President of Windows Product Management, who is chatting this week with press and bloggers about the state of Vista, just about a year after the company released the product to manufacturing.
Nash isn't apologizing for Microsoft's decision to introduce User Account Control prompts, default to standard-user mode (instead of administrator) or move the graphics subsystem out of the kernel space -- all choices the company made in developing Vista. Nor does he think it was a mistake for Microsoft to delay the final RTM of Vista, resulting in the company missing last year's lucrative holiday retail season.
Nash said Microsoft had to make the under-the-cover changes it did, for security and performance reasons, to Windows Vista.
"I don't regret that we made a lot of changes to Vista," Nash said in an interview on November 14. "But I don't anticipate that level of architectural change in Windows 7."
Microsoft hasn't said explicitly what it plans to do to minimize disruptions from any internal changes it does make with Windows 7. But it has dropped some hints.
If the company does build Windows 7 on top of MinWin -- the stripped-down Windows core -- as it sounds as if it is planning to do, that will help reduce some problems Microsoft and its partners have encountered, in terms of Windows dependencies. There's been talk Microsoft plans to include a hypervisor as part of Windows 7, enabling users to run applications virtually to prevent incompatibilities. And there's always the mysterious "StrongBox" feature that allegedly is part of Windows 7. Perhaps StrongBox provides some kind of isolation from lower-level Windows changes?
In terms of delivery schedules, Microsoft has made a conscious move from being transparent to "translucent" with its future Windows release plans -- including its plans for service packs. It also has appointed as head of Windows engineering a guy who knows how to make the trains run on time. Microsoft's main message in its communications with press and bloggers this week is that they should take another look at Vista. The Softies acknowledge now that the product got off to a rough start, in terms of missing drivers, application compatibility and overall performance and reliability. But as a result of numerous Vista updates pushed out over Windows Update, as well as changes that ISVs and hardware makers have made to their products, Vista is now running a lot more smoothly and reliably than it did a year ago, Nash said.
"A lot of the first imressions that enterprise users were having with Vista were at home," Nash said. Initially, those experiences may not have been as solid as Microsoft and its users were hoping. "But now that experience is changing," Nash said.
Vista is past the initial pain-point phase and deserves a reevaluation -- even before Microsoft ships Service Pack 1 in the first quarter of 2008, Nash said.
Any Vista naysayers taken a recent look at the product? If Microsoft had released Vista as it runs today a year ago, would your opinion of the operating system be different?