Windows Vista, Windows 7, conferences and other things taking up my time

Generally the lack of posts in October is directly related to the (growing) amount of work on my plate at the office.  It’s been very busy, as we increase efforts in advance of PDC and WinHEC, and the efforts we have currently on track.

It was with interest that I read today in the Seattle Times an article from Times technology reporter Benjamin J. Romano, "With Windows 7, Microsoft faces a future full of challenges."  Romano writes that "when the company divulges details of Windows 7, the successor to much-maligned Vista, it will do so against a backdrop of growing competition from Apple, a battered Windows brand and the global economic crisis."

"Microsoft has made big changes in how it builds Windows since releasing Vista, in part to avoid repeating past mistakes.

"Many executives involved with Vista have moved elsewhere within Microsoft or left the company. Those in charge now include Steven Sinofsky, who earned a reputation for keeping big projects on schedule as the head of development for Microsoft Office, and Jon DeVaan, who also leads a companywide effort to improve engineering."

I’ve seen several articles on how the Windows management team has (as Romano puts it "reduced the Windows bureaucracy and given front-line developers more responsibility." 

Is that a bad thing, distributing responsibility to the people closest to the code?

Windows 7 has been pumped in the press as the "most secretive product ever."  So, is it a bad thing that Microsoft management has "kept a tight lid on details about Windows 7"?  Companies do that every day, and have a devil of a time keeping a lid on new innovation, features and offerings.  I’ve found that Microsoft provides tremendous transparency on technology and applications to our customers and partners.  If there’s one thing I learned, many developers and systems administrators don’t like surprises.  They want the ability and reliability to plan. 

Perhaps the Steve Jobs’ approach of "one more thing" works for consumers and entertainment technology, but for enterprises?  I don’t think so.  Scott Bekker of Redmond Magazine wrote back in 2002 that as Microsoft provided a a roadmap for future software and technologies for enterprises, there were "no surprises…"  and I think that’s the way many IT professionals prefer it.  At least, that’s what I’ve heard often enough.

Of course, all this predictability doesn’t mean one can’t continue to work and provide products with added value.  That’s one of the reasons I’m personally looking forward to PDC, and the disclosures we’ll see around a number of product and services that we’re all very excited about.  As Wolfgang Gruener posted last month in the article on on PDC 2008, there will be "no surprises" on Windows 7, noting that "22 out of 155 sessions will directly new features in Windows 7 – which makes the software the second-most covered topic (behind cloud services with 26 sessions) during the event…"

Also of note:  hand in hand with the above article in the Times is one on how PC manufacturers (OEMs, ODMs)are rolling out machines that can boot up in no time.

"Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Lenovo are rolling out machines that give people access to basic functions such as e-mail and a Web browser in 30 seconds or less. Asus, a Taiwanese company that is the world’s largest maker of the circuit boards at the center of every PC, has begun building faster-booting software into its entire product line.

"Even Microsoft, whose Windows software is often blamed for sluggish start times, has pledged to do its part in the next version of the operating system, saying on a company blog that "a very good system is one that boots in under 15 seconds."

It’s always good to hear (as we saw during a recent Springboard webcast) how Vista SP1 provides many of the enhancements today that people are looking for, and how PC OEMs are getting smarter about satisfying their customers with faster boot times and reduced "application overhead."  In the webcast, Gabe Aul noted that "driver maturity helps a lot" and Ed Bott offered a specific example. Link to Springboard series with MarkAt 6:20 in the video, Ed relates an hands-on experience with one customer who purchased a notebook PC with Vista in April of 2007, and had a negative experience (with Vista RTM). Ed recalls that he contacted the customer, arranged to get the machine…

"… a year later after SP1 came out, [I] refreshed all the drivers, installed SP1 and sent it back (to the customer) who said that "I don’t even recognize this machine, the experience is so dramatically improved." 

That’s one of the main reasons we’re considering a new computer this fall for home use, to replace an aging notebook. The improved performance with Windows Vista SP1 is a real selling point, along with hardware specs that will likely be more that ready for what’s to come in terms of future applications and services.

Tags: Microsoft, performance, Windows 7, Windows Vista, PDC 2008.

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