What we do know about Windows 7

Since Microsoft still isn't willing to talk -- or even comment on any of the information its own employees already have discussed publicly -- about Windows 7, I thought I'd make a list of the many things that are known already about Windows 7 (beyond the 2010 due date).

Since Microsoft still isn't willing to talk -- or even comment on any of the information its own employees already have discussed publicly -- about Windows 7, I thought I'd make a list of the many things that are known already about Windows 7 (beyond the 2010 due date).

Remember, as the Softies themselves like to remind us, everything about Windows is fluid up until the time the product ships. (And that is one of the main reasons the Windows client team has decided not to talk publicly about Windows 7 -- so that no one will be able to prove that they cut planned features from the product.)

Here are just some of the many tidbits that have been reported about Windows 7 so far:

* Windows 7 is being designed around five pillars (The five, as reported by AeroXP: specialized for laptops; designed for services; personalized for everyone; optimized for entertainment; engineered for "ease of ownership")

* Windows 7 will be more modularized and componentized than Vista or other previous Windows releases. Microsoft hasn't said whether it will allow users/PC makers to opt into (and out of) installing subsystems, the same way that Windows Server 2008 users can choose specific "roles," but hints that Microsoft is considering this approach for Windows 7 abound. Microsoft officials have discussed their work on "MinWin," a streamlined version of the Windows core. But MinWin may or may not be won't be part of Windows 7. (Update: Months after bloggers and reporters first discussed MinWin, Microsoft finally said MinWin won't be part of Windows 7, via the Sinofsky Q&A on News.com on May 27.)

* Windows 7 will be a minor update to Vista -- with "minor," here, meaning as less disruptive as possible to users and their applications. Microsoft has said Windows 7 will use the same driver model that Vista did. * Windows 7 will allow users to run legacy applications in virtualized mode to minimize backward compatibility problems. Whether Microsoft will deliver this virtualization via an application-virtualization solution like SoftGrid, the new Kidaro enterprise virtualization product or in some other way is not yet known. * Windows 7 will include touch functionality (seemingly, whether OEMs are keen on touch or not). * Windows 7 will be more tightly integrated with Windows Live services. Windows Live becomes the preferred way Microsoft updates existing PC-based functionality and adds new bits in between Windows releases.

* Windows 7 will be more tightly integrated with Windows Mobile. More Windows connections to mobile phones are coming, according to Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.

* Windows 7 will add support for "HomeGroup" networking -- the successor to the "workgroups" concept, akin to the feature codenamed "Castle" that Microsoft at one point intended to deliver as part of Vista.

* Windows 7 will add native support for Virtual Hard Disks (VHDs) -- a feature Microsoft already provides in Vista, in the form of Complete PC Backup (in the Business version of Vista).

Anything else you've seen in other press and blog reports about Windows 7 that should be added to this list?