Vista mistakes Microsoft won’t repeat with Windows 7

Microsoft learned some hard lessons with Windows Vista that it already is applying to Windows 7.

  1. Keep Windows architectural changes to a minimum.
  2. Be more predictable (and believable) when it comes to delivery targets.

That’s according to Mike Nash, Corporate Vice President of Windows Product Management, who is chatting this week with press and bloggers about the state of Vista, just about a year after the company released the product to manufacturing.

Nash isn’t apologizing for Microsoft’s decision to introduce User Account Control prompts, default to standard-user mode (instead of administrator) or move the graphics subsystem out of the kernel space — all choices the company made in developing Vista. Nor does he think it was a mistake for Microsoft to delay the final RTM of Vista, resulting in the company missing last year’s lucrative holiday retail season.

Nash said Microsoft had to make the under-the-cover changes it did, for security and performance reasons, to Windows Vista.

“I don’t regret that we made a lot of changes to Vista,” Nash said in an interview on November 14. “But I don’t anticipate that level of architectural change in Windows 7.”

Microsoft hasn’t said explicitly what it plans to do to minimize disruptions from any internal changes it does make with Windows 7. But it has dropped some hints.

If the company does build Windows 7 on top of MinWin — the stripped-down Windows core — as it sounds as if it is planning to do, that will help reduce some problems Microsoft and its partners have encountered, in terms of Windows dependencies. There’s been talk Microsoft plans to include a hypervisor as part of Windows 7, enabling users to run applications virtually to prevent incompatibilities. And there’s always the mysterious “StrongBox” feature that allegedly is part of Windows 7. Perhaps StrongBox provides some kind of isolation from lower-level Windows changes?

In terms of delivery schedules, Microsoft has made a conscious move from being transparent to “translucent” with its future Windows release plans — including its plans for service packs. It also has appointed as head of Windows engineering a guy who knows how to make the trains run on time.

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