What will Windows 7 be like … magnificent ? The Goldilocks question.

It’s odd to think that  I’ve been using Windows Vista as my main OS for more than 2 years. We’ve started taking the wrappers off “Windows 7” and “Server 2008 R2” at Tech-ed in Barcelona people were asking when they could get a beta, when the product would ship and so on. I have summed this up on internal discussions with “Those who know aren’t talking and those who talk don’t know”. The best answer we got to for the beta,was “It might be before Christmas, but then again it might be after”. Ah yes, put a Microsoft field person on the spot about dates and we become evasive enough to make the average politician’s answers look clear and direct. There are still a few days left for me to be proved wrong, but it looks like early in the new year. As for ship dates, we said when it shipped that Vista would have a 3 year life -  taking it to the end of 2009, and in the run up to the launch of Server 2008 we used slides which indicated “R2” at the end of 2009. We haven’t gone public on any changes to that. A beta at the start of the year would tie in nicely with that too.

I’m going to switch to 7 when the beta arrives. So that means the end of the road for Vista and I . I’ve genuinely liked the OS : but I’d need to have my head in sand to think that everyone liked it as much as I have. So I’ve been thinking about what people will make of 7. And I’ve got to a few examples.

“All Microsoft OSes are dreadful. It’s their natural state,XP was bad, I never used Vista but it was worse, 7 will be worse still”  Thank you, professor. There’s precious little point in my talking to you. Next.

Microsoft OSes were OK upto and Including XP.Things went off the rails with Vista.”  Now there are two ways this can go.
Either “The only hope is for Microsoft to go back to XP, and refine that”. That just won’t happen. The Windows 5.x generation (Windows 2000, XP, and Server 2003) is behind us, we are in the 6.x generation (Vista, 2008, 2008 R2, and “Seven”). The handful of things which can’t be made to work on Vista won’t work on ANY future OS.
OR “As a point release of Vista, Seven will deliver what Vista should have been in the first place”.  I’m probably going to have resist the urge to disagree with this. Vista was what it should have been for 2006. If we’d somehow produced 7 back then it would have had all the problems which come from a generational shift. But when people are ready to move its daft to beat them up for being slow to come to that decision.

“Vista was probably OK, but we didn’t move up to the 5.x generation in its first couple of years. The 6.x generation is the same”  This isn’t a good thing in an IT department.”We can’t deploy anything new” is a bad thing to say when the word “technology” is part of your title. But again if you’re ready to move now, no sense in asking “what took you so long”

“We’ve deployed vista .” This can go three ways.
Either “The change to 7 is small enough to make the step up really easy and we can see the benefits” – thank you, no need to talk to you but would you like to talk to some of my other customers !
orThe change to 7 is small enough that we can’t see the benefits ,so we’re going to stick with Vista”-
or “We’ve been through the pain of one OS upgrade, we’re not doing another one any time soon”

And that is the Goldilocks question. “This jump is too big” - “This jump is too small” and hopefully “this one is just right.”. Of course the only way to find out is to try the porridge for yourself – which – hopefully – is where we’ll be in a few weeks.

Comments (6)
  1. James ONeill says:

    Jeremy, I know what you mean. I’ve got a Vista laptop on my lap and a Server 2008 laptop at my feet. They’re not scientifically comparable, and both OSes use the same code base, but I do occasionally wonder which if Server 2008 is actually better optimized for workstation tasks than the workstation OS.

  2. James ONeill says:

    Chuck, I’ve got no idea where you get that from. A dispiritingly large amount of my time is spent telling people in Redmond to come down from their ivory towers and talk to customers. Who do I claim to be helping in this post, and where’s the disdain. I’ve reduced views of the OS to a few cardboard cutouts but that’s hardly the same thing.

    My experience of using vista for the last 2 1/2 years, makes me reject the idea that Vista is "screwed up". But some people do think that – and many of them have never used it. Sorry, to say it but the bald truth is that some of customers are very ill-informed about some of our products.

    "Not listening to customers" simply doesn’t match the facts. What we spend finding out what really works with real people is the same as the turnover of a good size software company.

    Arrogance?  I wish we still had some: it was lack of it which meant we wouldn’t put a gun to the heads of hardware developers to get drivers written. I’m not aware of a single application which broke where the developer could point to something which was recommended in a past OS and didn’t work on Vista.

    As for "all a bunch of idiots". Microsoft customers are representative of humanity as a whole, with the same number of idiots, smart people, and the broadly normal.  

  3. JeremyHagan says:

    How about one more position?  Why couldn’t vista have been as awesome as WS08 is.  Hopefully Windows 7 will be more like Server 08.  I love it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    One of the interesting bits of OS research coming out of Microsoft (stemming in part from their interest in managed languages) is Singularity.

  5. Chuck says:

    One thing is certain, Windows 7 will be proof positive to you that MS is full of geniuses who can’t seem to be able to bow down far enough to help the foolish rabble (L)users.

    Just re-read your own post to see your dripping disdain for the people you claim to be "helping".

    I would welcome far less griping about the user base and a big ole heaping helping of humility from MS. MS screwed up Vista by not listening to their customer and by displaying their corporate-wide cult of arrogance.

    We are not all a bunch of idiots.

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