Microsoft is changing the way it’s talking about the next version of Windows, dubbed Windows 7. “What is a little different today is when and how we are talking about the next version of Windows,” explains Chris Flores of the Windows Client Communications Team. “We know that when we talk about our plans for the next release of Windows, people take action. As a result, we can significantly impact our partners and our customers if we broadly share information that later changes. 

“With Windows 7, we're trying to more carefully plan how we share information.  This means sharing the right level of information at the right time depending on the needs of the audience.”

Microsoft admits it has already begun the process of sharing its “preliminary plans” for Windows 7 with hardware and software vendors. “This gave them an opportunity to give us feedback and gave us the opportunity to incorporate their input into our plans,” says Flores.

Microsoft says Windows Vista is getting better. “The ecosystem [has] delivered measurable progress in the six dimensions of quality we track -- device compatibility, application compatibility, reliability, performance, battery life and security,” added Flores. Microsoft has now sold  more than 140 million Windows Vista licenses. Flores claims that analysts are suggesting similar take-ups of Vista in businesses as XP at around the same point.

A major release

Flores also covered a question he said was often asked – is Windows 7 a major release? “’Yes” he said categorically, adding “it's hard to describe any product that is used by millions of people and worked on by thousands of engineers as anything else.”

“That said, the long-term architectural investments we introduced in Windows Vista and then refined for Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008 will carry forward in Windows 7.”

Windows 7 will use the newly-established graphics, audio, and storage foundations within Vista, says Flores, though we wonder whether Microsoft will finally unveil the new filesystem that it originally promised for Vista.

However, one thing Windows 7 won’t have is a new kernel. “Microsoft is not creating a new kernel for Windows 7. Rather, we are refining the kernel architecture and componentization model introduced in Windows Vista,” says Flores. 

While Flores says Microsoft is “not yet ready to discuss timing and specific plans for any Beta releases,” he says Windows 7 is very much on target for early 2010 – three years after the release of Vista.