The Windows Roadmap

Today, more than 1 billion personal computers around the world run Windows. Over the years, Windows has been the catalyst for innovations that have transformed the way people communicate, access information, create and share content, and much more, at work and at home. Windows is the platform that most people use to get the greatest value and benefit from their personal computers. I wanted to take this opportunity to share some thoughts about Windows and to answer some questions you may have about Windows XP and Windows Vista.

There are three things I want to give you an update on:
Our plans for Windows XP
Our progress with Windows Vista
Our view on Windows 7

Link: Details at Microsoft.

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I think it's a pretty well written letter. A LOT of people trying Vista in 2006 when it was first released rightly complained about the lack of drivers and the speed when running on older hardware. (Thankfully we rolled Vista out then with new hardware which worked out pretty good).

A Senior VP from MS has done a letter acknowleding that drivers were too thin on the ground at launch, and the new security improvements (which needed doing IMHO and was driven by user feedback) broke a number of apps that were doing naughty/non-recommended things. (using undocumented API's, hard coded paths for folders, requiring admin rights even though it's a graphics tools etc.)

As such MS won't be introducing any new big architecture changes in Windows 7 to ensure that people don't need to change things twice in the period of 3 years. It also means that if you want to use Windows, you need to get your develoeprs to code for Windows guidelines (circa 2000) rather than just hacking away. This way if your machines/apps work with Vista - it'll work with Windows 7.

This is what really bugs me. People have been saying for YEARS how insecure Windows is by default, how users are admins out of the box and that security isn't a priority. Now, with Vista, MS add-in sudu like abilities, where everyone runs as a user, but if your an adminsitrator then you just need to confirm the action before the process runs as admin - and if your a user then you need to enter in credentials (rather than "access denied") Now the same crew are shouting that Vista doesn't work with their non-certified POS/ERP application so it sucks.... well make up your mind.

Additionally - people are moaning about the lack of features in Windows Vista. (something I'll defend) Yet these are the people that have complained about the changes in Vista (new GUI, new security architecture), and THEN have a dig about the lack of confirmed changes/features in Windows 7..... make up your mind people!

I applaud MS for a number of things. They stood up to the table and decided to improve the security of Windows above usability. Nobody wants to get prompted for passwords or confirmation boxes. Toolbars appearing in IE to warn of ActiveX controls and having your processes run as user whilst your an admin aren't exactly fun - but they help reduce malware and help slowly introduce best practice for both lazy IT personnel in businesses and the less informed consumer. They also started to enforce decent application development standards that have been around for year. Developers SHOULD NOT TEST APPS AS AN ADMINISTRATOR! Applications should respect the local platforms locations and file structures (don't save log files in the root of C!) Programs should not use undocumented API's. These things will help IT folk as well as consumers in reduced support and less problems.
MS have then acknowledged that these security improvements were quite big, and they appreciate it's not exactly easy in migrating to a platform with such a big change. As such we have now been reassured that Windows 7 will run in a similar vain. i.e - if you go through the pain barrier now, then you'll be good for about a decade before we even thing of dropping a new OS with a new architecture on you.

And finally, MS have admitted that they didn't have the partner ecosystem ready for Vista. There just weren't enough device drivers about at launch. I wish they could make some promise that it won't happen again - but I guess it's out of their hands.

MS are no saint. They are a business designed to make money. They screwed up with ME, ActiveX and didn't implement decent security till it was too late. Vista didn't have enough drivers, and the hardware spec's were high at the time (again, not now).
But they've admitted their mistakes, and are giving guarentee's that Windows 7 won't be as radical in terms of architecture changes.

In the meantime, try taking his advice and give Vista a go with SP1 slipsteamed on a PC purchased in the last 12 months.... you maybe very suprised.