Windows Enterprise Desktop

Nov 25 2009   5:58PM GMT

Windows 8 Foreshadowing Now Underway

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

A number of publications have picked up on the fact that Microsoft displayed more than one slide at last week’s Professional Developers Conference (PDC) that showed a 2012 date for the next version of Windows Server. This suggests that the next Windows client, Windows 8, will also ship at that time. I can now verify this and even expand on it, after speaking with several sources inside the software giant. The plan is this: New versions of Windows and Windows Server will ship in lockstep every three years going forward. There won’t be major and minor versions as before, just new versions. This plan—in case it’s not obvious—is based on the success Microsoft had in delivering Windows 7 in three years, but it goes deeper than that. Most groups within Microsoft are now emulating the way the company delivered Windows 7 as well, with no promises that can’t be met and few public disclosures about features until everything is clearly established. Is this a good thing? It worked for Windows 7, of course, but then Windows 7 came on the heels of the most overhyped and over-promised Windows version ever. My guess is that in five years or so, Microsoft will also abandon this plan as it figures out that just because something worked for one product—or even one product version—doesn’t mean it’s a universal solution. But for now, this is the new plan.

Wow! Shades of the old days of central planning in the Soviet states, where everything worked around a 5-year schedule. But if we look at the timing of Windows releases since NT 4, here’s what you see

  • Windows NT: 1996 (client and server)
  • Windows 2000: 2000 (client and server)
  • Windows XP: 2001
  • Windows Server 2003: 2003
  • Windows Vista: 2006
  • Windows Server 2008: 2008
  • Windows Server 2008 R2: 2009
  • Windows 7: 2009

We sit a bit of up-and-down, or back-and-forth in release timings. I think it’s probably smart to understand this three year calendar as explaining how Microsoft wants things to be, but also to recognize that unforeseen events and issues can get in the way, and might occasionally speed things up but more probably slow them down from such a fixed interval approach.

But hey, at least we know more about what Microsoft wants to do and when to start planning for their next desktop and server OSes. If this is a newer, kinder, and more transparent Microsoft, I think I like it.

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