Partners: Microsoft On Right Track With Windows 7

Microsoft, which distributed a pre-beta version of Windows 7 to Professional Developer Conference (PDC) and Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) attendees, is reportedly aiming for a Jan. 13 release of Windows 7 beta 1, although some Microsoft pundits expect Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to unveil the Windows 7 beta during his Jan. 7 keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Andy Kretzer, director of sales and marketing at Bold Data Technology, a Fremont, Calif.-based system builder, considers Windows 7 to be more of an evolutionary change to Vista, and much less of a shift than that which occurred from Windows XP to Vista.

Compatibility issues that plagued early Vista users and the abiding impression that Vista is slower than XP are two common anti-Vista memes that Microsoft should be able to dispel once and for all with Windows 7, according to Kretzer.

"They should be in a much better position with Windows 7 than they were with Vista, because Windows 7 will use the same driver model as Vista -- so if it works under Vista, it should work under Windows 7," Kretzer said.

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Vista seemed to be plagued by a lack of focus group testing and feedback that could have helped mitigate the device driver, boot time and user experience pitfalls that many early Vista adopters encountered, said Daniel Duffy, CEO of Valley Network Solutions, a Microsoft Gold partner in Fresno, Calif.

However, from what he's seen thus far from Microsoft with Windows 7, Duffy says the company is on the right track toward restoring users' faith in Windows.

"I'm pretty confident that they're aware of the issues now because of the bashing that Vista has taken, and I look forward to a leaner, meaner version of Windows -- and hopefully a leaner, meaner Microsoft," Duffy said.

Andrew Brust, chief of new technology at twentysix New York, a New York-based IT consultancy, also feels Microsoft is on the right path with Windows 7, and chalks that up to better management.

Specifically, Microsoft appears to be more organized under Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president for the Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group, than it was under Jim Allchin, former co-president of the Platforms & Services Division, who left the company in January 2007, Brust noted.

"Microsoft needs to continue along the current path: work hard, make your deadlines, deliver stable code and don't yap about it, just do it," Brust said. "Basically, I hope [the Windows 7 beta] refines the product and doesn't add much to it, other than stability and the few incremental features they showed at PDC."