'Windows 7' product deadline may or may not be 2010
Reports yesterday and today stating Microsoft confirmed its Windows 7 release date for 2010 appear to be very premature, as the statement those reports were based on is the same boilerplate language the company has produced for months.
An oft-repeated statement from Microsoft's spokespersons on the release timeframe for the next version of the Windows client, currently code-named "Windows 7," continues to make the case that the product remains slated for a development phase extending some three years after Windows Vista's general availability (GA) release, which was in January 2007.
It would be nice to say BetaNews has some kind of scoop on the date itself, but as it turns out, Microsoft's official word on the subject to us this morning is exactly the same as it has been for months: "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."
What that statement continues to entail is a window of extension between the end of the primary development phase and some kind of release. The company, having been specific about the phraseology of the Vista "GA" but less specific about its successor, also appears to be holding open an option with regard to what kind of release that is. As we saw with Vista, there were multiple CTPs, some of which were "launched" in the gala sense. Then there was a "release" to manufacturing, after which business licensees saw the first versions in late 2006...months prior to the target point now called "GA."
Thus Microsoft's refusal to be more specific than this to BetaNews' inquiry, which asked about 2010, is an indication that, like Vista, Windows 7's "track" remains somewhat flexible.
Another point about which Microsoft declined to be more specific is the extent to which redevelopment will impact the underlying platform. Two weeks ago at the gala launch for Windows Server 2008 in Los Angeles, multiple Microsoft representatives and officials spoke about how good it was now that the kernel of the server operating system and that of the client were in sync with one another. Some pointed out that it was nice that businesses actually deployed betas of WS2K8, since they were apparently stable enough, just in order to achieve kernel synchronization, as well as to make full use of the Vista features that businesses had already invested in.
Those same sources also projected the new server OS' lifecycle within a four-year timeframe, with one correcting me at one point when I projected the next version for 2013 (intentionally), to make sure I said 2012 instead.
If Windows 7 were truly slated for general availability in 2010, that would leave a two-year gap during which the kernel of the server would not be in sync with that of the client...unless there are no extensive kernel changes planned for Windows 7 over Windows Vista, which would make a 2010 release date certainly more achievable. But it might not be the "correction" of Vista that some sources have made it out to be today.