‘Insider’ confirms anonymous Windows 7 M1 review, writes thesis on Windows 7 development

Windows SevenHot on the heels of the humble Windows 7 Milestone 1 review at Neowin yesterday, an anonymous commenter appropriately named “MSBob” on this blog who appears as a Microsoft insider wrote a fairly extensive comment essay confirming the authenticity of that review as well as revealing many other details about the current and future state of Windows 7.

There’s a lot of detail from the design of Windows 7, to the development teams, Windows Live integration strategies and of course the man, the legend, Steven Sinofsky who’s influencing the release cycles of Windows. And don’t forget Calculator, Paint and Notepad.

The review is real. Without Aero, however, the reviewer missed some of the good stuff that’s in the builds (mostly some new effects with the taskbar, and thumbnails).

The thing to remember, however, is that this is the end of M1 (i.e. milestone 1), and there are three milestones. There won’t be any major visual refresh until after M2 (i.e., everything will be implemented with the Vista look-and-feel until after M2). Whatever the new visual look of Win7 will be will be kept under wraps for quite a while. This is no different from Luna for XP and Aero for Vista.

Windows 7 is also the product of two teams working together: the WEX (or Windows Experience) team, which has primary responsibility for client releases as well as most user-focused features, and COSD (Core Operating System Division), which has responsibility for the kernel, networking, device support, and so on. COSD operates on a longer runway than WEX, meaning that work from that team will show up later in the cycle than work from the WEX team. Note: SteveSi is only in charge of the Windows team. Jon DeVaan runs COSD.

The other thing that should be considered is the relationship between Windows and Windows Live. Windows Live has taken ownership of most of the “service connected” features in Windows — Mail, Messenger, Photo Gallery, at a minimum. You can expect to see a Windows Live release in the same timeframe as Windows 7 that makes the “Windows + Windows Live” combination a killer one. Important note: Windows Live will be a strict add-on to Windows and it will take advantage of hooks provided by Windows that will be available to anyone. That was the promise when Windows Live was announced, and it will remain that way. So you will be able to install Yahoo stuff and have deep integration with Windows just as easily, as long as Yahoo chooses to take advantage of the new Win7 hooks.

That said, Windows Live is focused on more near term releases, so they are not doing deep plannng for the Windows 7 release right now. So it’s impossible to say exactly what that combination will look like. SteveSi is also in charge of the Windows Live Experience (WLEX or just LEX) team.

Finally, it’s important to understand one aspect of the SteveSi philosophy, which might be phrased as “there is always another version” or, more generally, the philosophy of developing release-rhythm. Under Allchin, Windows tended to get into the “big-bang or dot-release” mindset — each release either qualified as a dot-release (i.e. 6.0 to 6.1 — a minor update or refresh, usually ignored by the senior folks) or a “big-bang” release, which would try to change the world in one go. Very few dot-releases every lasted as such. Longhorn was supposed to be a dot-release to XP( that’s why it was named after the half-way point between the two big releases – Whistler and Blackcomb). The vision and scope changed drastically for reasons I was in no position to really understand. Big-bangs tend to collapse under their own weight (see: Longhorn :).

SteveSi is a much more measured guy and believes in regular releases (though his idea of “regular” might still be long for some people). So teams will have visions that stretch to Win8, and you’ll see a first, thoughtful implementation in Win7, that sets the stage for Win8 (and also gathers important data about how the feature is used, to ensure that the complete implementation is better). Different parts of the product will get focus with each release, ensuring that there’s always *something* that is a killer feature, but there’s no attempt to make sure that *everything* gets an overhaul in every release. Over time, the whole OS will show improvements across the board, but the focus and long-term planning ensures that it’s a smooth upward path, not a series of spikes and (unfortunately) valleys.

This is the model that has been followed by Office for years — compare any release of Office with it’s successor and you’ll find small improvements everywhere and major improvements in one or two areas. Compare releases of Office over a longer time period and you’ll see huge improvement (say, Office 2000 to Office 2007). Even in Office 2007, while it looks drastically different, very few new features were added to the individual apps — the focus was on adding the ribbon to the core apps (many old features were exposed by the ribbon, which makes it look like much more was added than actually was).

Oh, and calc/paint/notepad are getting updates (i won’t say what), but they are pretty simple apps and don’t need to be re-written in WPF to get new features. Besides, everyone at MS is deeply aware that these apps are useful precisely because they are simple, focused and start up near-instaneously. No one is going to rewrite them in WPF just because they can and sacrifice the utility of those tools. Wordpad is a different story — it has no real purpose in Windows (it was originally more-or-less a sample app for MFC back in the Win95 days and really hasn’t been touched since, except to do security reviews), so part of updating it is to figure out how it fit it back into it’s natural place as a simple word-processing tool that sits between notepad and Word in functionality.

Of course this could be as authentic or as fake as the first, but I find it hard to comprehend why anyone wouldn’t be telling the truth, especially not with these many words to say about it. Some of the claims for example “new effects with the taskbar” I know to be rather true. If it’s not worth anything else, it’s still a fascinating read. What a great time to be anonymous at Microsoft.

64 insightful thoughts

  1. i find it interesting, that all of a sudden so many blog posts and comments from microsoft insiders exist regarding windows seven.

    those doing this, why now and why not before? is there some urge telling the world about the windows development?

    this is getting into apple-hype-dimensions 🙂 great reads anyways, keep it up! its what keeps tech blogs alive!

  2. @marco
    Maybe their strategy of “not telling” is working?

    Of course “not telling” means “tell everyone things through ‘leaks'”.

    Although it’s not quite “we’ll sue some people to prove it’s not PR” – “apple hype” is it? (yet?)

    ps: is there anyway of getting mail comment notification without commenting?

  3. Well these posts together don’t tell us much, but rather get us looking forward to the next release of Windows and to “agree” with their mindset.

    it’s not all of a sudden that insider leaks. don’t forget that M1 is a build that goes to many hands with all the OEMs that MS has.

  4. I agree with you both.

    What this kind of blogs do is to make windows interesting. This mysterious way of telling things about a windows in development is really fun to read (or an ingenious campaign!).

    tbh i havent followed the vista blogs much (were there many?) and those i read were mostly boring. so these reads about leaking infos are kinda new to me and highly entertaining.

    i wish there were new infos about the ultimate extras again 🙂

  5. @Fowl: You can also use the “RSS Feed for this entry” which is just below every blog post, that gives you a feed for the comments of each particular post.

  6. Thanks, Long and great contributors, keep on those excellent blogs. I would not trade in my Vista against XP anymore, and these future indications make good reading and are very entertaining.
    @ Marco: this does not smell like Apple delusion!

  7. “…“MSBob” on this blog who appears as a Microsoft insider has wrote a fairly extensive…”
    This might be the O C D but I had to point out the “has wrote”. It’s either “a Microsoft insider wrote” or “a Microsoft insider has written”
    Sorry about that.
    Keep up the good work!

  8. All I care about is that they make Windows 7 as fast on XP on the same hardware – both new and old. Vist is slower on both new and old equipment. So many idiots say things like it seems fast enough on my new quad core 3ghz with 4 GIGS of ram – while it may run fast enough for you it still isn’t as fast as XP particularly in a network environment.

    Vista is flawed in design and will never ever with all the patches and SPs will still be slower than XP in: file copies, file moves, network copies, network moves, network access time, and video performance. You can say all the my computer doesn’t seem slow or ther is a patch for that but until you do some serious testing with numerous identical machines running XP and Vista you really can’t say Vista will ever be a viable option. I’m stoked they are working on Windows 7 as Vista is the Windows ME that MS will want to forget.




  9. great read and a very interesting look into what is goin to be the next OS….

    i cant wait to find out more and to be able to see more as well..the few rumoured screenshots/videos were obvious fakes, but the buzz has been created and people are all over this!!

    and your right Long what a great time to be anonymous at Microsoft.



  10. I panick sometimes thinking that XP will be the last of what Microsoft did good in OSes. Apple and Linux are not still not satisfactory for me.

  11. Great news. I think with Mr. Sinofsky on the bridge they will do their mission well.

    And what Mary Jo Foley just wrote about Windows Live let my designer’s heart smile: “and we will work to follow the Windows 7 style guidelines for applications” 😉

  12. You are definitely on Sinofsky’s watch list. I think he needs a red Zune Original that says “I am truly, deeply, sorry for breaking your barrier of secrecy.” to make him feel better. The image with lots of hearts would work best.

  13. I hope they don’t take away or break Wordpad! Notepad doesn’t handle CR/LF properly. But I guess I’ll probably be off Windows for good by the time Win7 is released. Or stuck on XP forever.

  14. After the disappointingly effects Vista had on us, it seems this is the best way to get excited about Windows again. And boy is it working!

    I hope they dont spend countless months and millions of dollars to come up with a new startup sound!

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  16. Better this way. Let microsoft keep their mouths shut and then deliver something truely great instead of talking about it and not doing anything (ie Vista)

  17. Boe: That is change. Have you tried running Mac OSX Leopard on an old Mac? It’s going to run slower as well. Same with any other OS.

  18. @david dickerson
    nobody, except Microsoft can tell if win7 is in development or not and what features it will have. So, all news about Win7 are just fantasies.

  19. @david dickerson
    nobody, except Microsoft can tell if win7 is in development or not and what features it will have.

    Microsoft’s mouths are closed. All news about Win7 are just fantasies

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  21. I beleaive this review and the chiness site. Thank-You to both MsBob and ThinkNext for stepping forward and clarifying what really has happened. I would also like to give shout to the people who blew this one out at Neowin with the fake UI.
    (REAL Windows7 Screenshots from ThinkNext: http://www.thinknext.net/archives/2124)

    As the media lies you can no longer tell what is real and what is not. I really have a hard time beleaving anything without true sources anymore.

    These two people who step forward I alpaud (ThinkNext and MSBOB). Imagine working at Microsoft. Imagine being a developer and the guy who works on the project and gets information and is basiclly given the same FBI discloser type of warnings “lets this out and your fired”. But you have to let it out, it’s too much to not let people know and for that I say thanks for giving us the TRUE information about what is going on. I hate when Companys keep their mouth shut and NEVER listen to their customers. How many times as Microsoft listened to you as a customer not a testing in connect or ET? Me… NONE ZIP… ZERO. Yep that that is why things are going down the hole. Microsoft planned XP well got comments and listened to the general public. Then 2 years passed by they got despirt. Longhorn failed and they stopped listening or rather they never started after SP2.

    Why is this? Because they are too busy working on other crap. Microsoft is a software company and should be doing such, not making anything. Sure I agree, Windows Mail is awesome, so is Live Mail and Live Search (kinda, it’s improving) and Windows Defender was a step in the right direction. But this is the where it gets tough. Microsoft shouldn’t be spending so much time competing with Google and as such they have really lost their touch with the outside world. If you want proof look at Ultimate Extras or Vista.

    As a final note in my comment novel I would like to say something to Microsoft:
    Please listen to your customers, they are what will help you get where you want as a company. It’s really easy you are providing the products why not listen to the millions of people who probably use your product more than you.

  22. This is either a hoax or Microsoft is planning on doing a Vista R2/SE to fix the issues with it while charging consumers. I am aware that this is an M1 build, but still, it is a virtual clone of Vista. It is almost exactly the same operating system. This was not the case with Windows XP or Vista during their early “leaked” preview days. Maybe, this is the roll out to the media center that was planned in late 2008 or earlier 2009.

    Someone is going to have to post some kind of system dump of their user logs, file system and registry before I get excited about this being the new version of Vista. I am not even sure I would believe it if the word came from Microsoft directly (because it would seem like a diversion to something bigger and better that they were planning). On the other hand, this could simply just be the Win95 to Win98 upgrade or more like Win98 to Win98SE that we have all experienced in the last.

    This is not the radical departure of the traditional Windows with a rewrite and virtualization for compatibility that we expected Windows 7 to be. Nor, is it a return to the roots of XP. This clearly is Vista with some less useful services shutoff by default (and other memory optimization) and maybe a few graphical UI changes thrown in for good measure.

  23. I can almost believe that MS realizes that Vista is a complete train wreck and the best thing to do would be to hold a pillow over its face until it stops breathing. They are in a no-win situation no matter what, so the best next step would be to leak the imminent existence of a radically slimmer, faster OS that’s just around the corner, to stave off the inevitable mass desertion of former Windows loyalists for Ubuntu or (god forbid) MacOS.

    But the damage would appear to be already done. If a thinking person contemplates the level of corporate incompetence that allowed something as awful as Vista to get out the door, and is also aware of MS’ committment to its “business partners”, then it is only reasonable to expect that the next offering would be even worse.

    I didn’t always have this bleak sort of outlook, it has been slowly fermenting ever since Windows 95 came out. I vividly recall spending an entire day just trying to get a sound card to work. It’s never really got better; the disappointments have just got steadily bigger. Server 2003 is the closest MS has ever got to making what I want, and even then it had to be dragged kicking and screaming for the last mile.

    At first I thought Vista must be some kind of cruel joke but, no, it’s real enough; what’s dismaying is that they thought we were stupid enough to blindly accept it. I am gratified, at least, to see that that doesn’t seem to be the case; I am deluged with requests from new laptop owners to “scrape this awful Vista thing off it” so it isn’t just me. The monicker “ME 2” might be really appropriate.

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  26. Sorry for yelling at you all before.

    Just excited.

    But really, where do I find what the Superbar is really like?

  27. Hey guys this build is more than real. ive personally downloaded a copy from “a certain pirates favorite bay” and installed, and everything worked for me, including aero and the super abr and so on.

  28. I wish i could post the link to the torrent file, but im sure its not allowed for legal reasons.

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