Windows Platform Enthusiast Blogger and Community Resource, Paul Thurrott has updated his informative Frequently Asked Questions about the next release of Windows, 7. Revealed are some additional information about the deep end user functionality and user interface features being built in. Here are some of the highlights I would like to point out:
“Q: Why Windows 7?
A: Since Windows Vista is really Windows 6.0, Windows 7 will presumably be version 7.0. Current beta versions list the version number as 6.1, which is the same version number as Windows Server 2008. “This will change”.
This is one of the things I have spoken about in the past. Is Windows 7 NT 6.1 or NT 7.0, Paul seems to be confirming that it will change to NT 7.0 by PDC. This in some ways would indicate a major release demanding a major version number. Ed Bott has given reason why Windows 7 would not carry a new version number, compatibility reasons:
“Windows 7, as dozens of leaked screen shots attest, is version 6.1. This numbering is almost certain to remain in the final product, primarily for the sake of compatibility. If the major version number is incremented to 7.0, many applications written to work with Windows Vista would fail to install, simply because of sloppy version checking.”
Read the rest here
Ed is not disputing that it will not be version 7, just that hypothetically if it does it would inherit compatibility issues for applications that are not programmed to check the OS version properly. Its not a guarantee that every application is programmed to do this, so some of the compatibility issues that plagued Vista would most likely show up again.
Kernel. Windows 7 will feature an evolved kernel and underpinnings when compared to its previous-generation predecessors, Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 (SP1) and Windows Server 2008. While it’s unclear whether the "MinWin" kernel that Microsoft demonstrated in 2007 will be included with Windows 7, it is quite likely that the OS will include parallel processing capabilities, which will be implemented as .NET Framework 4.0 APIs.
Virtualization. With Windows Server 2008 now shipping with hypervisor-based virtualization capabilities, it’s obvious that this technology will be making its way to the Windows client as well. Will it happen in time for Windows 7? Yes, it probably will.
Sensors. Windows 7 will include context-aware application support via a new "sensors" facility. One example: A location sensor can tell "where" your PC is and compatible applications can act accordingly. Applications can use sensor information to offer customized and enhanced services, according to Microsoft’s documentation. Because of the privacy implications of sensors, this feature is opt-in and highly configurable.”
Some of these noted changes, makes it sound like there are some major changes being architected within the Windows Kernel under 7, especially where new API’s are concerned. The next version of Visual Studio, 2010 and the .NET Framework 4.0 are being built with the Cloud ‘Internet’ in mind. This would suggest that Windows 7 will have better out of the box experience for developers to build applications that utilize the software plus services experience while delivering to end users a more richer platform that spans PC’s and mobile devices.
Microsoft is working on a number strategies outside of Windows 7, such as the new touted Windows Cloud OS, Windows Live services such as Live Sync and Live Mesh to make the availability of Personal Data easier across multiple PC’s and devices a lot easier.
“Scenic application user interface. Microsoft has created a new application UI, codenamed Scenic, that will give Windows 7 applications a new and consistent, but customizable, look and feel.”
Windows Vista introduced AERO, which focused on improving the general user experience in Windows. While there have been criticisms about the theme itself, Microsoft is listening. For this, a new color scheme is being worked on. Leaked Windows 7 builds reveal a more sharper glass appearance, with an Explorer that is more akin to the current Windows Live Wave 3 beta applications, with text labels for toolbar buttons. Persons who have been testing the Live Wave 3 applications so far have expressed a negative view on the new look. Applications in Windows 7 are also implementing Office 2007’s Office Fluent UI which I have personally described as overkill, but adds consistency across Microsoft’s desktop applications.
“Windows Credentials. Windows 7 will include a system for managing the online IDs, logons, and passwords that you must manage for all of the Web sites you visit. Dubbed Windows Credentials, this feature utilizes a KeyRing for storing online credentials and a Credential Manager user interface. These settings can be backed up to and restored from a secure online vault.”
Microsoft has been focusing on making credentials easier to manage, past controversial initiatives such as Hailstorm (PassPort), have been met with distaste. Microsoft did some work with credentials still, with PassPort eventually evolving into Window Live ID making it easy to manage credentials across various Windows Live Services. Alternative platforms such as Mac OS has its own credential manager called Keychain. Microsoft seems to adopting a similar approach to Keychain, by making the user stay in control. Windows Vista presently includes Windows CardSpace which makes it easy to manage identities across various online services.
Check out Paul Thurrotts Windows 7 FAQ here
Updated 10/12/08 – 7:06 P.M. – Grammatical errors