:: Windows 7 (formerly codenamed Blackcomb and later Vienna) ::
Windows 7 Tracker
Current build: Milestone 3 (6.1.6801)
Build date: October 2008
Expected release: June 3, 2009
Windows Vienna Is The Successor Of Windows Vista
NeoWin.com writes about how Windows Blackcomb changed its name to Windows Vienna. Windows Vienna (formerly Blackcomb) is the successor of the Windows Vista operating system. The new codename was not officially confirmed by Microsoft, however Robert Scoble confirmed the rumour in a Channel9 topic.
Windows 7 FAQ
What is Windows 7?
The upcoming Windows desktop operating system following Windows Vista. It is currently in development at Microsoft.
When will Windows 7 ship?
Originally, a Microsoft VP confirmed that Windows 7 is expected to be released in January 2010, which puts it in the three-year period after the general availability of Windows Vista (which took place in January 2007.) However, more recent news claim to have Windows 7 released 6 months earlier, in June 3, 2009.
Why the name 'Windows 7'?
If the history of naming products at Microsoft has thought us anything, it's that until very soon before the release of the product, we will be dealing with a code-name. This means that Windows 7 is not the final name of the product. The reason behind the name is that Windows Vista is using NT Kernel version 6, and Windows 7 will presumably be labeled with NT Kernel version 7.
Is Windows 7 the same as Windows Vienna?
Yes; Windows 7 was previously named Windows Vienna (hence the name of this website) and before that, Windows Blackcomb. They are the same operating systems only with different names.
Is Windows 7 a major operating system release?
Since "major" is a relative term, and it can mean different things to different people, there is no straight answer to this one. Windows 7 will not break all compatibility with previous applications and hardware supported by Windows Vista for the sake of starting from scratch, despite original reports that claimed so. All the security hardening introduced in Vista will be found in Windows 7. Windows Vista serves as a foundation for upcoming Windows operating systems (such as Windows 7 and the already released Windows Server 2008.)
Are there any distinguished features of Windows 7?
While Microsoft is being careful at releasing details on the features of Windows 7, the released videos and screenshots show an improved Windows Explorer, WinFS storage technology (but under a different name), improved search functions (for the local system, networks and the Internet) and a revamped GUI designed by Julie Larson-Green and other members of the team responsible for the Office 2007 ribbon interface.
Will Windows 7 be released exclusively for 64-bit processors?
No, but it will be the last one to ship for 32-bit processors.
How many people are working on Windows 7?
According to Microsoft, over 2000 developers and 500 managers.
Codename Change Is Official
"The codename for Blackcomb has changed to 'Vienna'. This does not reflect a big change for us; we have used city code names in the past," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement. "These code names are derived from cities/locations in the world known for great 'vistas'. The kinds of places we all want to see, experience and that capture the imagination. Vienna fits with this concept."
Why The Name Change?
Many were wondering why Microsoft decided to change the codename of the future version of Windows from Blackcomb to Vienna. Bruce Morgan from Microsoft, expresses his personal opinion:
"Blackcomb was the code name for some other project driven by other people, started many years ago. The people who chose that name and started that have moved around quite a bit since then, and different people have the leadership roles now. The vision for the product is quite a bit different, I'd imagine, than in the late 90s. So many things are different now that it's been many years since Blackcomb was the "next version of Windows after Whistler."
Windows Fiji, Then Windows Vienna
Windows codename Fiji, or Vista R2 is now scheduled to deliver before Windows Vienna. Windows Fiji is planned to be released in 2008, while Windows Vienna had its estimated release date in 2010. Due to the recent Windows Vista delay the domino effect could cause these other two versions of Windows to also be delayed, however the schedule disruption will not be significant.
Windows Vienna - Opening A New Generation Of Operating Systems
In the past 20 years, the Microsoft Windows operating system has accumulated old code libraries that brought it to the size it has today, 2.5 GB and about 50 million lines of code (Windows Vista). These old code libraries consume resources and are often the targets of security exploits. The best way to avoid such problems, is to start from scratch, which is close to what Microsoft plans to do with Windows Vienna. Windows Vienna will represent the start of a different generation of operating systems, bringing in new concepts and support for new types of hardware, along with a better security and a modular approach, which will allow future versions of Windows to be built more easily on Windows Vienna's engine.
It is also likely that the future success of Microsoft's products will be strongly decided by the success of the new generation operating system.
Windows Vienna - Two And A Half Years From Now
Now that Vista is on the shelves, Microsoft is focusing on its next major operating system release, Windows Vienna. Even though Windows Vienna is going to be a major release with a totally revised GUI, Microsoft made a bold statement: by the end of 2009 Vienna will hit the shelves.
However, Microsoft needs to keep the buzz on Windows Vista for now and so they are not releasing any Windows Vienna official information to the public yet, expect for the fact that they are working on it.
Windows Vienna Is Now Windows 7
Microsoft revealed a new name for the upcoming operating system: "Windows 7" - as it is built upon the 7.0 version of the NT Kernel. The name, however, is similar to what "Longhorn" was for the Vista operating system - a codename that will be changed soon before the release of the final version.
Bill Gates On Windows Vista
In a recent interview for MSNBC, Bill Gates said Vista will be "more user-centric" to an extent at which "even if you drop by a kiosk or somebody else's PC, we can bring down your home page, your files, your fonts, your favorites and those things." The Tablet PC will also continue to be pushed on the market as a version of Windows 7 accommodating Tablet PCs will be released, one where the digital ink and speech will play a much bigger role.
Update On Windows Vienna / 7
Julie Larson-Green, responsible for the user interface of Office 2007, and also the person behind the ribbon-like interface has been transferred to the Windows 7 team.
The current release date of the Windows 7 operating system is expected to be in late 2009, early 2010, returning to the 3-year pause between desktop operating system versions that was common at Microsoft for all Windows versions prior to Windows Vista.
The most common dilema about Windows 7 right now is whether or not to use backward compatibility. Strong rumours have suggested that the OS will be developed from scratch on top of the Windows NT kernel, given its maturity in both security and stability terms. The backward compatibility, however, is something that Microsoft developers would frown upon, since it prevents truly revolutional ideas to be implemented. Windows Vista, because of its backward compatibile, carries a large amount of code libraries with it, thus the large size of the operating system. However, many businesses that haven't upgraded their software in a decade or more would not purchase Windows 7 if it was not compatible with their applications. As a result, the current options that Microsoft has are to either make Windows 7 backward compatible, or to maintain a legacy version of Windows in parallel, for the business customers, one which will be kept alive by Microsoft though patches and updates.
MinWin And Windows Vienna / 7
Almost two months ago Eric Traut gave a presentation on operating systems in which MinWin was brought to light for the first time. Although used for running a basic HTTP server, MinWin is a stripped down version of the Windows kernel that will be used as the foundation for Windows Vienna. MinWin is composed of approximately 100 files totalizing 25MB on disk and 40MB set up, in comparison with Vista which is made up of over 5000 files and approximatley 2500MB on disk.
Since MinWin is simply an effort from Microsoft to bring the kernel down to the smallest possible size in order to achieve the best efficiency for the upcoming versions of Windows, it will not be a kernel that is going to be distributed all by itself but merely a starting point for the next generation of operating systems built by Microsoft that break the legacy with the Vista operating system and its ancestors.
Anonymous Microsoft Employee Blogging On Windows 7
As a crack into the iron curtain surrounding Windows 7, an anonymous blogger claiming to be a Microsoft employee working on the new operating system is now leaking non-sensitive information on a dedicated blog at shippingseven.blogspot.com. While no list of features is being made public, the blogger said that Microsoft uses a central repository for all the Windows 7 features, making the development centralized and well organized.
3 Years To Windows 7
A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed for WindowsVienna.com and Geekpedia.com that the development of Windows 7 will take approximately 3 years from the general availability of Windows Vista, which would put the release date somewhere in 2011: We are currently in the planning stages for Windows 7 and development is scoped to three years from Windows Vista Consumer GA. The specific release date will be determined once the company meets its quality bar for release.
Gates Speaks Of "Green" Windows 7
At the Windows Digital Lifestyle Conference in Tokyo, Bill Gates unveiled a few more details regarding the upcoming operating system. According to the transcript, Gates said the key aspects of Windows 7 will be "the ability to be lower power, take less memory, be more efficient, and have lots more connections up to the mobile phone."
Bill Gates is expected to release more information on Windows 7 during his farewell tour before his departure as full-time chief software architect from Microsoft this July.
First Official Windows 7 Video
In preparation for the D Conference, an annual event hosted by the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft has revealed some new information about the operating system through its bloggers, as well as the first official video demoing Windows 7.
The video covers Windows 7's Multitouch capabilities in various applications; with Multitouch the touch-screen is capable of recognizing multiple, simultaneous touches, similar to Microsoft Surface but on a smaller scale. The first laptop to be shown featuring this technology is demoed in the video and will also be shown by Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer during the conference.
Chris Flores, director of Windows Client Communications, blogged about the upcoming operating system's kernel. Contrary to rumors, Chris says, Windows 7 will not be using a new kernel. Instead the Windows Vista kernel will be refined and reused. One of the major design goals is for the kernel not to become bloated but rather "run on the recommended hardware we specified for Windows Vista and that the applications and devices that work with Windows Vista will be compatible with Windows," wrote Chris.
Chris also confirmed that Windows 7 is on track and expected to be released in approximately three years from the general availability of Windows Vista. He also added that beta releases are upcoming.
Introducing The Windows Development Teams
The listening ear of Microsoft has opened at blogs.msdn.com/e7/ where two senior engineering managers, Jon DeVaan and Steven Sinofsky are posting information on the process of engineering Windows 7 and listening to suggestions and questions from the audience.
According to the two bloggers, the Windows operating system is assigned to a variety of teams, and each time consists of about 40 developers. These teams have remained fairly consistant over the years, and some of the large teams include:
Applets and Gadgets
Assistance and Support Technologies
Core User Experience
Customer Engineering and Telemetry
Deployment and Component Platform
Devices and Media
Devices and Storage
Documents and Printing
Engineering System and Tools
Find and Organize
Internet Explorer (including IE 8 down-level)
Kernel & VM
Networking - Core
Networking - Enterprise
Networking - Wireless
User Interface Platform
Windows App Platform
The New Windows 7 Release Is Of A Relative Size
The Engineering Windows 7 blog has recently talked about how the scale of a new operating system release is relative to every type of users. While for end-users a major release typically comes with an upgraded or new PC, for developers the defining factor is the number of new capabilities and APIs introduced.
In weighting the advantages and disadvantages of re-architecting the Windows operating system in order to create a major release for everyone, one that performs better and takes full advantage of the latest technologies, the engineers at Microsoft agree that the key is a balance in the release of any operating system, including Windows 7.
The blog posters were careful in not categorizing the new Windows 7 operating system as either a minor or major release, and resorted to calling it an "awesome release."
Windows 7 Boot Times And Performance
The Engineering Windows 7 blog has recognized the interest of Windows consumers in the improved performance of the new operating system, and two new posts have been dedicated to covering the subject.
According to the blog, the Windows 7 teams are constantly watching the memory usage, CPU usage, disk operations, boot, shutdown, standby and resume time, among other metrics. They are also working on improving device driver performance, network performance and boot performance. A very fast boot would be 15 seconds or less, and the Windows team is working towards getting more systems to achieve that performance with Windows 7 - while keeping in mind that obviously the hardware plays an important factor.
The measurements are done on a wide range of hardware platforms, with various amounts of RAM, hard-disks and solid-state disks, 32 bit and 64 bit processors. The Windows operating system also uses conditional statements that target different code depending on the available hardware.
Furthermore, the Fundamentals Team's primary objective is to improve the performance of Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 8. Aside from that, a single team of developers has been assigned the task of increasing the boot performance of the operating system. Tests are being done in a benchmark lab that allow to track and compare different versions of the Windows 7 code.
Windows 7 Sessions At WinHEC and PDC Conferences
Windows 7 made its appearance on the session list of WinHec 2008, the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference taking place in early November. The conference will cover the Windows 7 operating system extensively, and the sessions will be guidelines to designing hardware that takes advantage of the new technologies implemented in Windows 7.
Windows 7 can also be found on the agenda of the PDC 2008 conference that takes place from October 27 to 30, as the official website of the conference (MicrosoftPDC.com) puts it: "you can expect a lot more on Windows 7."
Five different sessions will cover Windows 7 at PDC: "Windows 7: Web Services in Native Code", " Extending Battery Life with Energy Efficient Applications", "Windows 7: Touch Computing", "Writing Your Application to Shine on Modern Graphics Hardware", "Developing for Microsoft Surface."
The WinHec conference has the following sessions this year:
Connected PCs and Devices
Audio Design for Unified Communications
Building a Communication Device in Windows 7
Building a Windows Certified Electronic Picture Frame
Common Driver Installation Errors and How to Diagnose Them
Design Considerations for Building a Windows Home Server
Discussion: Windows Home Server
PC and Device IDs in Windows 7: What You Need to Know
Plug and Play Basics
Printer Driver Development Tools and Print Verifier
USB Technology Update and Windows Strategy
Windows 7 Device Experience Overview
Windows 7 Logo Program and Design Considerations for Network Infrastructure Devices
Windows Connect Now for Wireless Devices
Windows Logo for Network Media Devices and the Role of DLNA
Windows SideShow: Building Better Devices and PCs
Core Platform & Fundamentals
Core Platform & Fundamentals
Distributing Drivers on Windows Update
Leveraging Solid-State Drives in Windows
Making Drivers Available on Windows
Network Power Management Fundamentals
New Developments in the Storage Platform
System Integrated Flash Storage
UEFI Industry Momentum: The AMD Perspective
Windows 7 Power Management Overview
Windows Logo Program Future Strategy
BitLocker: Protecting Portable Data in Windows
Directions for Virtualized I/O in Windows
IPv6: Deploying the Foundation for Tomorrow
Microsoft Data Center Transformation
New Windows Server Logo Requirements and Programs
Server and Domain Isolation: The Next Generation for Network Security
Understanding the Performance Cost of Power Optimizations
Windows Presentation Virtualization
Windows Server Power Management Overview
Windows Virtualization and Cluster Shared Volumes
High Fidelity Graphics and Media
High Fidelity Graphics and Media
DirectX: Core Graphics for Windows 7
Discussion: Windows Media Center
Display and Monitor Technologies
Perspectives on the Windows TV Tuners Ecosystem
Video Improvements in Windows 7
Windows 7 Logo Program for TV Tuners and Remotes
Working with the Windows 7 Graphics Architecture
Connecting Projectors and Using Docking Stations with Windows 7
Multi-touch Designing and Testing for Logo Compliance
Multi-touch Driver Development
Multi-touch in Windows 7 Overview
More Windows 7 M3 Screenshots Leak
Starting September 12, Microsoft has started spreading M3 builds of the Windows 7 operating system within the company but also to selected beta testers outside of the company.
The M3 release of Windows 7 shows an updated Paint and Wordpad that feature the ribbon interface introduced by Microsoft Office 2007, however no noticeable new features were introduced. The Control Panel and many of its modules, such as the Display Settings now follow a new layout that's meant to ease the access to common settings. Windows Media Player now also comes in a Lite version that loads audio and video files faster.
Microsoft officials frown upon the leaked versions because they might give the wrong idea to the public. Also, they kept a tight lid on the information surrounding the screenshots and the Windows 7 M3 release in general, but they are expected to release a broadscale beta of Windows 7 in December 2008 followed by the RTM (release to manufacturing) version just 6 months later, in the summer of 2009. The new rumored deadline of June 3, 2009 puts Windows 7 about 6 months ahead of the original deadline.
It is unclear whether or not Microsoft will be handing out early releases of Windows 7 at the upcoming PDC and WinHEC conventions; if they do, more leaked screenshots and builds are expected to leak from the hands of the attendees.
Windows 7 Pre-Beta Distributed On October 28
Microsoft shows excitement over the release of its pre-beta version of Windows 7 at the end of October during the PDC2008 conference in Los Angeles.
"We'll [...] be giving every attendee a pre-beta copy of Windows 7. Yes, you heard that right. You'll be able to install your own copy of Windows 7 and play with it on your hardware. This is a very limited release, and PDC2008 attendees will be the first to get it." said Mike Swanson, a well known technical evangelist at Microsoft. Mike also announced there will be 17 additional Windows 7 sessions during the PDC, and even more are expected to come. Some of the newly introduced sessions include "Integrate with the Windows 7 Desktop Taskbar," "New APIs to Find, Visualize and Organize," and "Best Practices for Developing for Windows Standard User."
Steven Sinofsky, one of the writers behind the Engineering Windows 7 blog and a senior engineer manager at Microsoft, will be also present at the PDC to hold a keynote on Windows 7 and answer questions. Sinofsky will also be seen at WinHEC where he'll hold the keynote speach on Windows 7 on November 5.
The new operating system will be distributed on an external 160GB USB hard drive by Western Digital.
How To Download Windows 7 Beta
Christina Storm of Microsoft has reminded people that are enthusiastic about Windows 7 that they can participate in the beta program too if they qualify. Similarly to participating in any beta testing program run by Microsoft, this is done through its connect.microsoft.com portal. There you can sign in with your Microsoft Passport account and once you answer a few questions, you'll be entered the selection for the Windows 7 beta testing program.
According to Christina, the Windows 7 beta program will start very soon, but since pre-beta versions will be handed out at PDC2008 conference, it is likely that the beta version will follow a few weeks after that, possibly as late as mid-December. On connect.microsoft.com, the beta tester application form is typically made available weeks before the beta product is available for download; if Windows 7 beta 1 is released in December, Microsoft will likely be accepting applications as early as November 1st.
In the past, Microsoft has given priority to beta testers that have been testing other Microsoft products in the past as well, and provided useful feedback on them. If you have participated in other beta testing programs through connect.microsoft.com, it's recommended that you use the same account to apply for the Windows 7 beta program as well.
Windows 7 Takes More Advantages of Multi-Core CPUs
Microsoft is making efforts with Windows 7 to have it accommodate parallel processing better and take more advantage of today's multi-core CPUs in order to gain more performance for the operating system and its applications. However, it will take future versions of Windows to take full advantage of parallel processing, when the architecture of Windows will be based on managed code.
The problem with dual core, triple core, quad core and other multi-core processors is that software can rarely take full advantage of them. Because of the way software is being designed today, there are very good chances that when one core runs a certain part of the software's code, and another core runs a different part, if the two parts are dependent on each other, one of them will fail if the other one doesn't finish on time.
Intel has strongly encouraged developers to target multi-core CPUs with their code, and Microsoft is taking a step towards that by changing some of the design of Windows 7 to accommodate and take advantage of all the available cores. Although the basis for Windows 7 will remain the same as for Windows Vista, a series of tweaks will help Windows 7 take advantage of the newer CPUs.
For future versions of Windows, Microsoft plans to replace the Windows core with fully managed code, that is designed specifically with parallel processing in mind.
Windows 7-No Longer Just A Codename
Microsoft has announced that the final, official name of the next version of Windows will be the same as the codename - Windows 7 - making this the first version of Windows to keep its codename as its release name.
The codename Windows 7 has turned out to be more than just a codename this time around for Microsoft, as the company has agreed to keep things simple and keep the name Windows 7 for the final release of the operating system as well.
As Mike Nash, corporate vice president of Windows Product Management puts it:
"The decision to use the name Windows 7 is about simplicity. Over the years, we have taken different approaches to naming Windows. We've used version numbers like Windows 3.11, or dates like Windows 98, or "aspirational" monikers like Windows XP or Windows Vista. And since we do not ship new versions of Windows every year, using a date did not make sense. Likewise, coming up with an all-new "aspirational" name does not do justice to what we are trying to achieve, which is to stay firmly rooted in our aspirations for Windows Vista, while evolving and refining the substantial investments in platform technology in Windows Vista into the next generation of Windows."
This is the first time a Windows version has used its codename also as the name of the final release, and also one of the earliest naming announcements from Microsoft, as Windows 7 hasn't even reached its first beta version. A pre-beta will be handed out to attendees of the PDC and WinHEC conferences taking place later this month.
Windows 7 Showcased By Microsoft
For PDC 2008, Microsoft is releasing screenshots of Windows 7 that confirm the rumors of a new taskbar, start menu and fewer warnings.
New screenshots of the Windows 7 operating system have been released by Microsoft, showing off a new Taskbar that groups application instances together, no longer showing their name but only their icon; when hovering over the icon, thumbnails of applications in that group will pop-up. The order of the applications can now also be changed.
The Start Menu suffered a small redesign and has been reorganized to show frequent and recent applications on the right pane.
A gadget-enabled desktop that replaces the Vista sidebar; all of Vista's sidebar gadgets will be compatible with the new gadget-enabled desktop.
Alerts will not be seen as often in Windows 7 as when using Windows Vista. The new Action Center allows you to control the pop-up balloons that show up in the System Tray. All the messages will now queue up in the Action Center and can be resolved by the user when ready, or the user can shut them down alltogether.
Tablet PCs will benefit from Windows 7's multitouch capabilities. Other new features in the showcased Windows 7 version include an easier home networks setup process, and a new way to display a folder's content (typically when it contains pictures and other media,) called Library.
Windows 7 Multitouch Capabilities Demoed
At WinHEC, Microsoft demoed the new multitouch capabilities that come with Windows 7 with the support of N-trig (a popular producer of touchscreen displays) who has already released the first multitouch-enabling drivers for Windows 7
The multitouch capabilities of Windows 7 were demoed at WinHEC this year, showing how Windows 7 makes tablet PCs and other touch-enabled devices much easier to use. Among the applications demoed, there was Virtual Earth, Microsoft Paint, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Worldwide Telescope.
Windows 7 drivers for the multitouch displays found in Dell Latitude XT Tablet PCs have already been released by N-trig, the producer of the touchscreens for these devices. The drivers are in a pre-beta stage, running on a pre-beta version of Windows 7, therefore bugs are common and expected.
"Working with Microsoft, we are building the infrastructure that is fueling HOC innovation in the PC marketplace," said Amihai Ben David, CEO of N-trig. "With this foundation in place, ISVs can now create new applications to further enhance the usability and reduce the barriers between people and computers. Additionally, these software advancements give OEMs a high level of interactivity for a dynamic interface that will open up further avenues for development."
"We're excited to bring multi-touch to Windows 7 to create a unique experience for customers to easily search for information, navigate web pages and locate files all at their fingertips," said Gary Schare, Director of Hardware Ecosystem Product Management at Microsoft Corp. "N-trig's DuoSense technology is key to enabling multi-touch experiences by allowing customers a natural way to interact directly with computing devices through a touch of a finger."
Windows 7 Improves Performance & Energy Efficiency
Even as early as Windows 7 Build 6801, a great number of reports show that Microsoft's new operating system has made major improvements in terms of performance and energy efficiency that put it well ahead of Windows Vista Service Pack 1. Microsoft explains where and how these improvements were made.
While Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista is known to have increased the performance and stability of the operating system, reports show that the pre-beta Build 6801 of Windows 7 delivers a superior level of performance to that of Windows Vista.
Through reduced background activity by minimizing the number of services running at startup, the number of disk operations, the reading and writing to and from the the registry, and the indexing of files, Windows 7 promises to increase the performance of the operating system but also to consume much less energy.
The Windows services will now be capable of starting depending on triggers, making it unnecessary for the services to run continuously simply to monitor an action, like they would now. Developers would be able to configure these triggers and develop their services accordingly. Windows 7 also comes with a set of preconfigured services that are accessible to developers via the Service Control Manager.
The processor will stay idle longer and get into that state more often in order to decrease power consumption. Devices that are not being used at the time will be shut down more often; this includes storage drives, network adapters and graphic cards.
However, Microsoft pointed out that its up to the developers that write software for the Windows platform to continue this practice of being energy efficient and generally resource conservative. According to Microsoft, the developers now have sufficient tools to control the power consumption of their applications to a great extent.