If Windows 7 really is scheduled to make an appearance during the second half of 2009, does this mean that making the move to Vista is now a pointless effort?
TG Daily claim to have uncovered a roadmap for Windows 7 which suggests that Windows 7 is being fast-tracked:
Several industry sources have confirmed to TG Daily that a very early version of Windows 7, previously code-named Blackcomb Vienna, already has been shipped to "key partners" as a "Milestone 1" (M1) code drop for validation purposes. A roadmap received by TG Daily indicates that the new operating system will be introduced in the second half of 2009.
While it has generally been believed that Windows 7 was scheduled for a 2010 debut, Microsoft has revised the roadmap and apparently moved up the release date by a few months: A recently distributed roadmap of the OS lists a release to manufacturing in H2 2009. Microsoft declined to comment on this date.
So this presents a dilemma for those who've not yet made the switch from XP to Vista. With 7 on the horizon, is it worth the time, effort and money making the switch when chances are that Microsoft will be pushing for another switch in a couple of years? But for those who have made the leap to Vista, these people could be looking at seeing a beta for 7 being available in a year or so.
My best guess here (combined with a little asking around) is that this roadmap is real and that Microsoft is speeding up development on Windows 7. It's also highly probably that this is down to the fact that some customers have made it clear that they're happy to stick with XP until the next version is released.
Trying to figure out what customers will want from Windows 7 isn't easy. Judging by the feedback I've been coming across, Windows 7 will need to be faster than Vista, more robust, present the user with fewer compatibility hassles (note that TG Daily claim that Milestone 1 shipped in both x86 and x64 versions - an indication that support for 32-bit will continue) and not hammer system resources as much as Vista does. Oh, and it should be packed with compelling features to make the upgrade worthwhile. That could be a pretty tough call.
But what does this mean for Vista? Well, I'm ready to bet that Windows Ultimate Extras are history. I'd also be surprised if we see an SP2 for Vista before Windows 7 is released, especially if Microsoft is pulling out all the stops for 7. Vista feels more and more like a stop-gap between XP and 7.
What would you want from Windows 7?