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May 27, 2008 10:27 AM
Posted by Benjamin J. Romano
The executive in charge of Windows, Steven Sinofsky, has been known for his silence as he leads the Microsoft engineers churning out the next version of the company's flagship operating system. Today, Ina Fried at News.com published a lengthy interview with Sinofsky.
Despite Fried's best efforts, Sinofsky bobbed and weaved around many of her questions, according to this transcript. He declined, mostly, to rehash Windows Vista. He went into the interview with several points in mind and made them, repeatedly.
Here's my distillation of some of the main points:
-- Microsoft is constantly working and communicating with the Windows ecosystem -- hardware and software vendors, partners, enterprise customers. The company's silence on Windows 7 (relative to the years of noise leading up to Vista's late launch) is borne of a responsibility to the ecosystem, Sinofsky said.
"We want to make sure that when we do share information, that the information we share is accurate and reliable, and that we have in place the mechanisms for feedback such that the feedback is really taken seriously with respect to our plans. The reactions that we've had to some of the lessons learned in Windows Vista are really playing into our strategy of getting together a great plan for Windows 7, and working with all the partners in the ecosystem in a very deliberate way, such that the end result is a very positive experience for all of us," he said.
-- Windows 7 is still due by January 2010 -- "about three years after general availability of Windows Vista," Sinofsky reiterated. It will be "a major release," he said, with "a lot of features" that he did not discuss with Fried.
-- 7 will build on Vista. "We're very clear that drivers and software that work on Windows Vista are going to work really well on Windows 7; in fact, they'll work the same. We're going to not introduce additional compatibilities, particularly in the driver model," Sinofsky said. (Driver and software compatibility were major problems when Vista first hit the market largely because the Windows ecosystem was out of sync with Microsoft on release dates.) He declined to go into more details.
-- 7 will be available in both 32- and 64-bit versions. (Microsoft has said that Windows Server 2008 would be its last 32-bit server operating system, but the end of the 32-bit desktop OS is still somewhere over the horizon.)
-- Microsoft plans to release information about Windows 7 in a manner similar to what it did with Internet Explorer 8. Here's Sinofsky's version of that process:
"The people who helped us to design how we were going to be compatible, how we were going to be compliant, the standard support that we did, were all part of the development process early on, all the outside parties.
"Then we turned around and said, 'OK, now we're ready to go to developers.' We had a conference at Mix, and we talked about the development opportunities in Internet Explorer, because they were actionable. We gave people the code, we had published the specifications, we were ready to go not just for them to go do the work but for them to give us the feedback, and we were in a position to really act on it. That's really what we're trying to do with the next release of Windows as well."
(Several Microsoft watchers have their eyes on Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference -- "the definitive Microsoft event for software developers and architects focused on the future of the Microsoft platform" -- Oct. 27-30 in Los Angeles as a likely venue for substantial details on Windows 7.)
As usual, Mary Jo Foley has a great summation of the details floating around about 7 that Sinofsky did not address.
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Bill Gates, who last week ended his full-time involvement with Microsoft, was often right. He made a career, a company and an industry by looking over the horizon.