Microsoft looks to learn from the successes and failures of Vista to deliver its strongest OS yet.Windows Vista was supposed to usher in a new era for Windows operating systems, employing a stylish aero graphical user interface and offering many improvements over its previous version.
However for all its hits, the OS has certainly had its misses. Initial hardware support for the 64-bit home version was bad leading to multiple incompatibilities, while the more "user-safe" interface with its many prompts (which some don't realize can be disabled) left many annoyed. Further, the multiple SKUs left many wondering what they were buying, though in Microsoft's defense, the software giant did document the differences between versions extensively online, and worked with retailers to provide this information.
The company was also slammed with a major class action suit, after its executives admitted lying to consumers about computers' "Vista readiness" under pressure from a hungry Intel looking to sell chipsets. Said one executive, unhappily, "We set ourselves up."
For all its problems, though, Vista delivered a rather solid experience for the majority of users. Its improved search features, improved office suite, and more interaction-friendly graphics interface have all pleased customers.
Microsoft is pushing ahead strong on its plans to release its next generation operating system, Windows 7. Whereas Vista took over 5 years to release -- XP released October '01, Vista's retail release was in January '07 -- Windows 7 will reach customers in a mere 3 years, according to Microsoft. Leaks also reveal that the Redmond-based company sent a test version of Windows 7 known as Milestone 1 (M1) to select partners in January 2008.
In an email, a Microsoft spokesman, confirmed that 2010 was the correct Windows 7 date -- three years after the consumer Vista release. He stated, "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."
Microsoft may have already reached Milestone 2 (M2) in the development, which it had projected to reach in March/April, though the company refused to comment on the progress. Microsoft, under extended supervision by the U.S. government for past antitrust abuses, submitted a copy of Windows 7 to the Technical Committee ??“ the group of technology experts appointed by the Department of Justice and the other plaintiffs in Microsoft's U.S. antitrust settlement.
The committee released a status update on this examination. The committee states, "In addition, the [Technical Committee] has begun to review Windows 7 itself. Microsoft recently supplied the TC with a build of Windows 7, and is discussing TC testing going forward. The TC will conduct middleware-related tests on future builds of Windows 7."
Microsoft has disclosed little about how Windows 7 builds on Windows Vista. Bill Gates did state in an interview that it will provide revolutionary advances in voice recognition and other natural interfaces. The OS will also interface with Windows Live Wave 3, the latest version of Microsoft's email/messaging/utility suite.