Microsoft Offers Few Details On Windows 7

But in a Tuesday post to the Windows Vista team blog, Chris Flores, a director with the Windows Client communications team, confirmed that Microsoft is working on the next major version of Windows and that it's called Windows 7, although he didn't drill down much deeper than that.

"We are well into the development process of Windows 7, and we're happy to report that we're still on track to ship approximately three years after the general availability of Windows Vista," Flores wrote in the blog post. Microsoft released Vista to businesses in November 2006 and to consumers the following January.

One significant change Microsoft is making with Windows 7 has to do with how it shares details on features and functionality to customers and partners. Flores acknowledged that with past versions of Windows, Microsoft has shared information at an early stage that changed later on, and that these changes have had a pronounced effect on users.

"With Windows 7, we're trying to more carefully plan how we share information with our customers and partners. This means sharing the right level of information at the right time depending on the needs of the audience," Flores wrote.

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Microsoft has traditionally shared its early product design work with the industry in order to elicit feedback, but has often been criticized for removing features later on. Tim Marshall, vice president of technology at Neudesic, an Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider, expects Microsoft to be more guarded about the information it shares about Windows 7 in order to ensure it sets the proper expectations.

"I think there will still be a certain amount of information [on Windows 7] that floats out in strategic design reviews, rather than the pre-marketing approach Microsoft has used in the past," said Marshall.

Todd Swank, vice president of marketing at Nor-Tech, a Burnsville, Minn.-based system builder, believes that Microsoft is playing its cards close to the vest with Windows 7 so as not to cut into potential Vista sales.

"They don't want to steal momentum from Windows 7, because people are obviously going to be excited about the upcoming release in light of the challenges associated with the transition from XP to Vista," said Swank.

Flores also dispelled the notion that Microsoft is redesigning the kernel in Windows 7 in an attempt to reduce its footprint and boost performance. "Contrary to some speculation, Microsoft is not creating a new kernel for Windows 7. Rather, we are refining the kernel architecture and componentization model introduced in Windows Vista," Flores wrote.

However, despite the perception in some parts of the Microsoft channel that Vista is bloated and needs fixing, Marshall believes that a few minor adjustments are all that will be necessary to make Vista a leaner, meaner OS.

"The area Microsoft has had the most trouble is video processing. They kind of blurred the lines with the subsystems there, and they'll need to work on that. But the rest of the modules are such that some tweaking will give you a 'Vista on a diet', so to speak," Marshall said.