View Full Version : Windows 7 Blog
A new blog has been started by the Windows 7 engineering team. There isn't much on it right now, but over time they will be adding more about the new Windows OS for those that are interested.
08-19-2008, 01:39 AM
This is all very interesting ...
With the advent of the blog you linked to, a dialogue is being established with the IT and end user communities early on. This is very important because in a well managed world it will mean that the release of Windows 7 will not be a square wave of content that nobody understands the way Vista was.
Similarly, plans were discussed in the second post for keeping the developer community informed while, hopefully, avoiding churning and 530 degree changes of direction.
I was particularly intrigued by the first post and its discussion of feature teams, along with the three aspects of each team -- development, product management and testing.
I've said it before and I'll say it again ...
I believe history will record the development of Windows as one of the most important and influential engineering efforts in human history, right up there with the construction of The Pyramids and The Parthenon.
I'm not talking about the design of Windows though that certainly is a subject worth discussing. Rather, I'm talking about Microsoft's techniques of engineering management -- approaches that change as the tactical situations change, approaches that are largely successful in keeping Windows under control.
If we equate a line of code with a mechanical part, Windows contains hundreds of millions of them. In contrast, a 747-100 contained about four million parts. So large, complex software systems like Windows aren't simply complex, they are more complex than any single mind can possibly fathom.
Microsoft's genius lies in understanding how to form multiple engineering teams that interact so as to produce a cohesive end user system, an amazing feat given that not only does no single individual understand all of Windows, no single team does, or a single product manager.
This goes well beyond the concepts of modules and interfaces that drove the hardware and software architectures of the mid-60s through mid-70s. What we are seeing, or rather what we are NOT seeing because it isn't visible to the public, is nothing less than a revolution in engineering management. I won't be around to see it, and you might not either, but by fifty years from now the engineering schools will be offering an elective called "The Evolution of Windows", or some such thing.
If I sound like a Microsoft fanboy it's because I am. I've been using their software development products since 1981, which is almost thirty years now, and I've been using their business software since roughly 1995. I find them to be not an Evil Giant Corporation but rather a very large business that is trying to be as responsive as it can to the needs of customers while at the same time delivering to its stockholders the profits they deserve.
I will make no charge for the foregoing sermon.
08-19-2008, 02:30 AM
While I have no interest whatsoever in entering into a Microsoft is good/bad argument, I will say this:
After my hard disk died not too long ago the only MS products I reinstalled were XP and FS9
My "office" products are all open source, my browser is Firefox and my mail reader is Thunderbird. The PC runs much faster and I have much more disk space by not loading bloated software.
Maybe they have introduced an engineering revolution as you say, but I believe my PC runs better without their stuff. That, in the end, is what really counts, what works for you, (or ME in this case).
08-19-2008, 03:28 AM
Agreed with GreasyBob here.
OpenOffice.org is a fast, clean alternative to MS Office.
Winamp 5 is a great alternative to Windows Media Player and can manage iPods and other portables.
Firefox 3 is the best browser out there, with a multitude of add-ons and features.
Thunderbird is a great mail reader, though I haven't explored it fully.
Ubuntu is a great OS, much better than Vista IMO, but in the end it isn't as...user friendly really is the wrong word, but there you go.
Might I also mention that all above software is FREE. In fact, the only thing you have to pay for is an antivirus and the hardware itself.
You can get free antivirus clients too, such as AVG Free or BitDefender, but they provide less security than their priced counterparts.
08-19-2008, 05:01 AM
Speaking of great open source software, have you seen portable apps?
Brilliant stuff if you're moving around using "strange" computers.
08-19-2008, 07:43 AM
GreasyBob and Asad,
Let's debate this ...
There's nothing wrong with Open Office except that when I used it a work three years ago I found the spreadsheet program did not work for me. (A bug in the exponential logic or whatever.) I'm still running Office 2000. Just as I see no need to upgrade to either Office 2003 or Office 2007, so do I see no need to "upgrade" to Open Office. If I'm ever forced to "upgrade" it probably will be to the Office 2007 equivalent of Open Office.
But you guys were talking about "bloatware" or whatever term you used. In this day and age what on earth does it matter what the size or speed of the software is? (Of course it will in fact matter to you if you think that the difference between 98 fps and 99 fps is important :) but trust me, I'm not an fps counter. I lock every one of my FS installations to either 10 fps (900 mhz development computer) or 15 fps (2.2 Ghz flight computer. And these days I buy only $600 packaged systems, only from Best Buy, and I never make changes to them -- not even to add memory.)
If you want to go out of your way to get angry about the price, size and performance of Microsoft software, feel free. However, I will point out to you that, as the ancient Chinese said, "No judges without criminals". Open Office would not exist were it not for Microsoft Office having shown the way -- and without purchased Microsoft products there would be no models for other people to follow regarding other applications as well. (I'm a DirectX programmer on top of everything else. Trust me, DirectX is not the kind of thing that the Open Source movement is capable of delivering.)
(No, don't accuse me of the computer equivalent of ethnocentrism. I'm a UNIX user and programmer, and I was an Apple user for several years in parallel with being a Windows user. The fact is that you really do want there to be Big Software, for the same reasons that you want there to be Big Oil.)
Okay ... Battle lines drawn. We are talking about cult software versus mainstream software. Surely you don't think that something like Windows 7 could emerge automatically from email discussions between a few dozen part time hobbyist programmers, do you? It would NEVER happen, just like Linux would NEVER have happened without UNIX as a model.
It's easy to be a copycat, hard to be an innovator.
All of the above said, PortableApps does seem like a Wonderful Thing and I'm going to look into it.
08-19-2008, 10:23 AM
I'll definitely be looking into PortableApps.
Mike, I sort of agree with you, but then again, the software, first and foremost, is FREE. Now, that's a huge advantage for me, being 14. :)
08-19-2008, 07:04 PM
Sorry Mike, no debate from me, as I said, no interest in the Microdoft good/bad argument. To me it's not much different to the Mac/PC argument.
(...or the FS9/FSX argument for that matter.)
I'm a great believer in the "whatever does it for you" philosophy. I have no interest in very expensive software that not only takes up too much room but is slow and loaded down with "features" that I'll never use. Open source software works extremely well, does everything I need, doesn't bog my computer down and is free.
So, in the end, if you believe Microsoft products provide you with what you need and you're happy with them, that's great, more power to you, I have no problem with that at all. For me, I have no need of expensive bloatware and I'm happy with open source. Many people will agree with you, some will agree with me and a few others will have different opinions to both of us. This is all good, it's what makes the world an interesting place.
08-19-2008, 07:39 PM
I encourage all kinds of debate in this forum not with the expectation that anything will be settled but instead with the expectation that the back and forth will bring out information of value to the readership. For you to engage in drive-by shooting does not contribute much of value.
Nowhere have I said that free software is a bad thing (I use tons of it), but when I see adjectives like "bloatware" I wait for the next predictable phrase, which is M$ -- and even without the second one I wonder how objective the information presented is.
Now let me say some other things for the benefit of the readership ...
The term "bloatware" is simply not helpful at all. If you don't want to debate that will be fine but then please present hard facts instead of simply adjectives. That term does not represent thought but instead uninformed opinion. (Do you imagine that the people at Microsoft are stupid? If so, be aware that what they do is so complex that an IQ test is required for employment there. The "unnecessary" lines of code are there for a reason.)
I also have to wonder whether you've ever put Open Office to industrial grade use. If you haven't -- if you've only ever done simple word processing (not maintained large technical books with many chapters and many illustrations, for example), or simple spread sheeting (not like creating and running a 1200 line business model I once made, a model that Open Office was unable to run) ... ahem ... bad grammar.
So it may take a lot of code -- "bloatware" as you put it -- written and maintained by a large team of paid experts, to do all the things that demanding professionals need done. Free software from amateurs isn't automatically good, even if it's open source, and for you to seem to take that position is precisely what I meant when I referred to "cult software".
Microsoft works hard and successfully to create applications that can be used easily by novices while still containing more features than the most demanding professional could ever want. This is a deliberate product definition philosophy of theirs. If you want to call the result "bloated" then you must be doing less than demanding work or you would never use that term.
Are Microsoft applications automatically the best there is? Of course not. You can take any single application and find something out there that is unquestionably better in terms of some combinatiion of features, performance and reliability. But when you do find such a competing product, with 99% reliability you can be confident that it isn't freeware.
Similarly, when you find a freeware system that's being maintained by fifty part-time people who will never meet in a conference room, you can be dead certain that the fruits of their labor will reflect the limited and casual effort that has gone into it, and that the results inevitably must fall far short of a system that has 500 full time paid professionals as its developers, all with high IQs, all dedicated exclusively to the job at hand.
There. I feel better now.
So kindly tell the readership: In what ways is Open Office is better than Microsoft Office other than its being a) free and b) fewer, many fewer, lines of code? Did they leave anything out, for example? Or is it flaky when you push it hard? What makes it better?
Yes, many people find free lightweight software running on a free lightweight operating system to be entirely suited to their needs. Good for them. But does it follow that software for the rest of us is "bloated"?
I tend to agree with Mike about the bloatware issue. It isn't a fair description at all, and one could just as easily accuse OpenOffice of this. If MS Office is bloatware, which features exactly aren't needed? I can guarantee that whichever ones you list, someone else does use them and finds them essential to their job or task. MS Office is certainly overkill for most home users, and for these people OpenOffice is quite likely a better option. For man others, however, Microsoft Office is very much an essential tool.
Free software from amateurs isn't automatically good, even if it's open source, and for you to seem to take that position is precisely what I meant when I referred to "cult software".
Are you trying to imply that OpenOffice was created by a bunch of amateurs, or am I misreading this comment?
08-19-2008, 08:20 PM
I have some factual information to add to this discussion ...
Reading the first few paragraphs of a PC Magazine article about Windows 7 earlier today, it's clear to me that Microsoft is going to restructure the system so that less of it will be resident in typical situations, presumably making it more suitable as a platform for applications like cell phones.
They've had Windows CE for quite some time but it has been a very limited feature subset of mainline Windows. I have the impression that with Windows 7 they will be making an agressive push into the dedicated systems market, this time with a better thought out packaging of the usual Windows base functionality.
But Windows 7 is also going to have new, additiional functionality. I haven't read much about the system so I can't tell you what the impact of that new functionality is going to be. What I can tell you is that Microsoft is very unlikely to want to have another Windows Vista fiasco on their hands.
Again, the people at Microsoft aren't stupid, and they are all highly skilled paid professionals. If they weren't they would not be working for the company -- Microsoft would not allow them to stay.
Back to the freeware debate, which I will conduct with myself if necessary. A good example of the situation is the freeware flight simulator FlightGear.
FlightGear is a nice system. Good flight model, an ever-expanding fleet of nice default aircraft, decent panels, decent scenery -- all at a cost of $0, free to anyone who wants to down load it, the source code up on SourceForge as I recall.
So I downloaded FlightGear only to discover that I would have to compile the system, and that to compile it I would have to go get the GNU C compiler that I made to walk the plank years ago. And that after a succesful compilation I would need to do a, b, c and d to complete the installation after which ... I stopped right there.
I've been a professional technical software developer since 1963, folks, but I personally don't want that kind of brain damage. I value my time, and the cost of FS -- any version of FS -- is worth less to me than the opportunity cost of my time that would be required to get it on the air.
Different strokes for different folks but at least I'm not calling FlightGear "Toyware" or "AmateurWare".
08-19-2008, 08:30 PM
So I try to follow the example that loki sets for the rest of us, which is ...
Strongly held opinions supported by facts, not slogans. I often (usually?) disagree with loki, but at a minimum he always makes thought-provoking posts. And, my being a rational computer professional, he sometimes provides so much useful information that my opinion changes and ends up aligning with his own.
Facts please, not slogans. That said, GreasyBob, your opinions really are welcome here. Just provide the supporting technical material, okay?
And Asad, you've already explained the reason for your strongly held opinion -- "I'm 14 and I can only afford freeware." :)
That's an excellent reason.
Well, you can get compiled versions of FlightGear now, if you are ever interested in trying it out again (maybe to see how AirBoss works with it?).
I often (usually?) disagree with loki, but at a minimum he always makes thought-provoking posts.
I would agree with the usually part, I think. Of course this post is just going to ruin that ratio... :p
And, my being a rational computer professional, he sometimes provides so much useful information that my opinion changes and ends up aligning with his own.
Just goes to show that one can teach an old dog new tricks... ;) :)
08-19-2008, 08:46 PM
For you to engage in drive-by shooting does not contribute much of value.
Fair enough, if that's how you see it, I'm out.
08-19-2008, 09:07 PM
Firefox 3 takes up 23.6MB
IE7 takes up 5.86MB
No bloat there.
Every version of Windows and Office has ways of configuring which options/features to install. A knowledgeable user can therefore pick and chose which options they wish to have installed. And the cool thing is that, over time a user can add and subtract options without reinstalling the whole program. Heck, I still use Office 97 because it fits my needs and I am always adding and removing options.
No bloat there!
08-19-2008, 09:15 PM
I'm sorry you're out but you're doing it to yourself. By drive-by shooting I meant a willingness to make disparaging comments but an unwillingness to engage in dialog. Your departure is simply confirmation of your style.
I do want to try FlightGear. Yes, I want to try AirBoss with it. And I want to try AirBoss with X-Plane too.
You gave an interesting example, thank you.
Let's see if we can get back on loki's topic of Windows 7. Has anybody else read the PC Magazine article? If not I'll finish it tomorrow and give a synopsis here. I think the article is significant because they seem to be providing some deep background information that Microsoft may not be ready to go public with at this time, in perfect keeping with the author of the blog that loki pointed us to.
What I have read of Windows 7 so far indicates that it will not be a major upgrade from Vista. Indeed the server version is looking like it will just be called Server 2008 R2. I'm sure there will be new features, but I'm not expecting anything Earth shattering.
One has to be careful comparing IE and FireFox that way as some components of IE are embedded elsewhere and aren't directly counted in the Task Manager.
08-19-2008, 09:26 PM
"Steven Sinofsky, the head of development for the desktop version of Windows, has said that Windows 7 on the PC side would not make major changes to things like the kernel and driver model, but has maintained that it would be a major release of Windows.
Microsoft has said that the desktop version of Windows 7 would include a new multitouch interface, but has not talked about other features."
"Microsoft has said it will share technical details on Windows 7 at its Professional Developers Conference in late October in Los Angeles."
Maybe we'll find out more after that.
08-19-2008, 09:28 PM
One has to be careful comparing IE and FireFox that way as some components of IE are embedded elsewhere and aren't directly counted in the Task Manager.
I looked at the Add/Remove Software Screen! Same for Firefox.
Oops, my mistake with saying Task Manager. I was thinking RAM usage as I had been looking at that recently for FireFox.
My point is still basically the same, however. IE doesn't need to install as many components as some of what it needs is already included in Windows. As FireFox is a cross platform browser, they try to keep it as platform agnostic as possible and can't just use everything that is already available.
You can download a plugin for Firefox that will use the IE rendering engine inside the FireFox Window. Useful for the odd web page that requires ActiveX controls etc.
08-19-2008, 10:28 PM
The name Windows 7 says much about the product -- it's the seventh major release of Windows. I'm inclined to believe that the repackaging is the main feature of the release. Only through this kind of effort would they be able to undo the forking of Windows into retail versus CE. I'm just guessing, but for many years now they've been struggling to come up with the Windows equivalent of a Unified Field Theory -- a single version of the system rather than two or more that have to be maintained and extended in parallel. My gut says that this issue is the main driver of the Windows 7 modifications.
The blog that loki pointed us to also shows that they're restructuring not only Windows itself but also the corporate engineering and product management staffing philosophy. I take this to mean that they're repositioning themselves internally to make sure that a Vista never happens again, and that the operating system never forks again in a product management sense.
It isn't just that Vista has proven difficult for mere mortals to use, it's also that it took many years to be released, many more than anybody there could ever have predicted. In my opinion this must have resulted in somebody putting his foot down and saying "Ship it as is, we can't delay any longer". It feels like a half-finished job because, in my opinion, that's probably what it was. (And I have evidence to back this statement up though I can't be certain.)
But it's still going to be Windows. If you count the time when the design was DEC's VMS operating system, the architecture has been burned in thoroughly during the almost thirty years since VAX was released. It is still going to be the same exec, the same drivers, and so on. To make an analogy with cars, the coachwork may change drastically but the chassis and especially the drive train are going to be basically the same.
What apparently IS going to change is the amount of the system that must remain memory resident and the way these things relate to the less frequently accessed operating system components and the potential layering of the user interface so that it stops being an all (mainstream Windows) or nearly nothing (Windows CE) choice.
Yes, I got the impression that there's going to be some new networking stuff as well. In fact, my suspicion (needs to be researched) is that the new networking capability is going to be what they were shooting for when the .NET effort was announced many years ago, to wit the ability to access corporate data without caring where the data is stored. In database programming this would be called a "view", with the elements of the view (the fields in a record, or the columns of a spreadsheet or database table) possibly being scattered all over the world but with the applications being completely unaware of this, and indifferent to it.
In fact, my guess is that Windows 7 is going to be what they had hoped Longhorn/Vista would be. This time they'll probably get it right. If they don't, the pace of industry migration to the competing platforms will increase dramatically. In that scenario even I would be looking closely at alternatives. (They had a process problem, hopefully now to be fixed. If it can't be fixed they will go the way of IBM and DEC.)
And oh yes, apparently this release will be the touch screen release. Personally I don't give a rat's patootie about touch screen, but I can see why it would be important to most users of mainly portable laptop end user machines. (Just don't take my mouse away, okay MS?)
Finally, the database stuff was Bill Gates' final vision contribution to the planned architecture of Windows. That the vision has not yet been realized does not make it anytheless important or anytheless achievable. This is a post-Gates world for them, no wonder they need to reorganize.
I don't have any inside information, and my conclusions are not based on some mysterious ability to see into the future. It's simply my interpretation of the information in a) the blog that Loki pointed us to, and b) what's in PC Magazine. The fact is that until member angels355 called my attention to it I was not aware of any specific new release being talked about, and until loki opened this thread I had never heard the name "Windows 7".
So what I've said above is educated speculation and nothing more. But I'm optimistic. After all, we're talking here about the builders of the Great Pyramids.
09-02-2008, 09:17 PM
Hi everyone. I've been very busy, first in general, then my mom broke her arm so became even more busy.
I like OS discussions. Just installed the final Sabayon 3.5 full dvd version, it's really great, have it dual booted w/ win 2000.
MS products work better with Linux assistance, lately I've been doing all my partitioning and formatting, and zero fills with Linux, then putting MS products into those where appropriate. Also if you scan MS partitions with Linux or Apple's OSX applications (btw I think there might be a spybot for linux?), you could find threats not detected by windows based systems. An example of that was the Mocmex trojan and cocktail of trojans along with it, that was hidden in digital picture frames from China. They were designed to hide from Windows. I'm no super pro w/ Linux that's for sure, but am getting a lot of use out of them and opensource software.
I've been interested in Win 7 for a long time. Zdnet has said that it will be what Vista was meant to be.
Mike mentioned the database envisioned by Bill Gates.
There was supposed to be a new type of advanced file system in Vista beyond NTFS, but I heard that it got scrapped for Vista. I wonder if it is going to be put into Win 7?
Zdnet mentioned in an article some time ago, maybe last year, that MS was unhappy about how they, MS, had been very transparent and open with the public during the development of Vista, but they got a lot of bad reactions from the public about Vista. Sooo, zdnet said, that for Win 7 they were going to be very closed and secretive about it. Perhaps this Win 7 blogsite is going to be good news in that regard, that MS is going to be open and transparent about Win 7 also?
What I heard about Win 7 maybe last year was that they were going to try to have less bloat for higher performance. But this year a technician told me that there's going to be a much larger GUI for Win 7 than Vista.
Obviously Win 7 must be addressing more advanced features in advanced hardware, like multiple cores and multiple processors. I could see how win 2000 was getting long in the tooth when I was trying to install it lately, it refused to allow me to specify the size of the partition. I had to use Linux to partition the hard drive then install win 2000 into that. And there are other advanced features I've seen in Linux that are not in xp, so even xp as good as it is, seems to be getting long in the tooth.
The goodguy developers always seem to be separated from the stern big brother programmers, the providers of the WGA, activation programming, and DRM, digital rights management. I'd like to hear more about what MS is planning to do in win 7 along the lines of big brother programming. I was incredulous a couple years ago when MS announced that their new WGA was going to become mandatory or else, and that it was going to have the ability to reach out and turn off your OS. As Win 2000 can also run the WGA I wondered if that would be putting big brother programming into win 2000 after the fact, and be capable of shutting that down also? Any way, as incredible as that news was, I was even more incredulous when it was put into effect. I think however that I've managed to avoid allowing the WGA to install on my win 2000; if there is an MS download that requires that the WGA be installed, I just say to myself, I don't need it and either go without, or take up the slack with Linux and opensource.
The most basic question, generalizing in the most basic terms, the question is, do authority figures violate your civil rights? Ya, they do, and routinely as much as they can get away with. When the WGA malfunctions as it has been doing for a few years now with tremendous regularity, and they sent out false positives on a number of occasions, accusing legitimate users of having pirated products, that is a serious accusation. And even if they are wrong, they make this mistake on a regular basis. What could that do to an honest person's career if his employer learns that his WGA was accusing him of running pirated software? That could in theory result in serious career consequences.
How about if you're honest and maintain a very high reputation? Well, people and authorities are not very sympathetic. One time there was an employee's boyfriend who committed a crime on company property, I saw it, and he knew that I saw it. So he arranged for his girlfriend to make a sexual harassment attack on me. So shortly after that, she touched me, I didn't think anything about it, I was as usual in a hurry trying to get my work done. Next thing I know she lied to management and I was being accused of touching her! My very long history of honesty and high reputation didn't count for very much at all, and they were at my throat for perhaps a year. I was able to prove that her boyfriend committed a crime, then they attacked me with this accusation, but despite that, those managers were still highly suspicious of me.
More recently, I have had a very long relationship with a grocery store, honesty and high reputation. I was in a hurry because of my mom's medical condition, I purchased two bags of groceries, then remembered that I had more money than I thought and we needed more groceries. I was like I said in a very big hurry, so I left the grocery bags in the shopping card, and just went back to shopping. This freaked out the store's paranoid undercover security person. I walked fast in a very big rush due to my time constraint all over the store getting what I needed as quickly as I could as I needed to get back home, that security person followed me, hounded me the whole time, staying within twenty feet of me at each stop where I picked up an item. At one time, I nearly had to ask him to get out of my way so that I could buy some peaches, that is how badly he was hounding me. All this despite years of an exceptionally outstanding relationship with the grocery store, and my high level of honesty and integrity. That security officers didn't leave me alone until I was back in the checkout line again for the second time. What kind of gratitude is that? Or trust? I wrote a complaint to the manager who I've known as a friend, and of course seek out more friendly stores to shop at with less paranoia.
My point is that, authority figures say that they need these security measures to protect themselves, along with lots of assurances that these are only for catching bad guys. Well, these policies are frequently abused, and innocent people can be harassed and even their reputations compromised wrongly, on a routine basis.
When you think about it, software piracy is an extremely serious crime. I believe such a thing is investigated by the FBI with serious consequences if convicted of such a thing. But the WGA slings out such accusations falsely and recklessly like a drunken sailor. Is that fair to honest law abiding customers who have paid for genuine MS products? I think paranoid policies cause alienation of their customers. As much of a fan as I am of MS, due to MS's paranoid policies, I find Apple products and Linux and opensource products extremely desirable.
So I wonder what type of paranoid big brother programming might be included with Win 7, that could really discourage me from buying it? I mean, win 7 is going to be a highly desirable product, something I've waited for for a long time. I'm just wondering, what bad surprise is waiting for me in the way of paranoid big brother programming?
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