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Windows 8 Discussions Get the Green Light

Microsoft has opened a space for public dialog about Windows 8, its next client operating system, which is currently under development.

Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division, authored the first blog today of a new Building Windows 8 ("B8") series that will discuss a range of issues over the coming weeks about the incipient OS. The blog echoes a similar effort carried out with the development of Windows 7 via an "Engineering Windows 7" blog series in August 2008. The new blog on Windows 8 apparently will continue Sinofsky's "opaque" approach on releasing information.

Sinofsky is largely credited with getting the Windows 7 train moving on schedule after disappointments associated with Windows Vista. Some of the expectations Microsoft had projected for Vista did not get met. Many independent software vendors weren't ready with driver support by the time Vista was released.

In one example of promising too much with Vista, Microsoft was taken to court over the "Vista capable" tag on PCs. "Vista capable" turned out to mean that the machine could run Vista, but not the newly introduced Aero glass-like graphical user interface introduced with Vista. That limitation turned out to be associated with Intel chips that were on the market but were incapable of handling the demands of the new OS.

Such problems led to a more cautious approach to releasing information by the time Window 7 was starting to appear on the scene. Sinofsky reiterated that approach with the B8 blog, saying that "our top priority is the responsibility we feel to our customers and partners, to make sure we're not stressing priorities, churning resource allocations, or causing strategic confusion among the tens of thousands of you who care deeply and have much invested in the evolution of Windows."

In the first B8 blog post, Sinofsky suggested that current hardware that can run Windows 7 might also be capable of running Windows 8, and that some Windows 7 software applications might be compatible with Windows 8.

"Windows 8 reimagines Windows," Sinofsky wrote in the blog. "That's a big statement and one that we will return to throughout this blog. It is also important to know that we're 100% committed to running the software and supporting the hardware that is compatible with over 400 million Windows 7 licenses already sold and all the Windows 7 yet to be sold."

This view seems consistent with what other Microsoft executives have said about Windows 8. The B8 blog is not Microsoft's first public discussion of Windows 8. Microsoft gave an initial preview of a "Windows Next" at the Computer Electronics Show in January, and announced future ARM support and system-on-chip support from AMD and Intel at that time. In June at an All Things Digital D9 event and at the Computex device show in Taipei, Microsoft unveiled Windows 8's user interface, which has a tile-based touch screen that looks a lot like the Windows Phone 7 mobile OS.

Sinofsky said in the blog that much has changed since Microsoft's last major overhaul with Windows 95. The company is focusing on the growing mobile device market with Windows 8. He said that "today more than two out of three PCs are mobile."

Microsoft plans to release more information about Windows 8 at its Build conference in September. While Sinofsky referred to a "pre-release version" of Windows 8, he did not specify when it would be available. Many expect some Windows 8 release to be available at Build, which combines Microsoft Professional Developers Conference and the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference.

The new Building Windows 8 blog can be accessed here. A Twitter feed can be accessed at @BuildWindows8.

Sinofsky promised that an e-mail link on B8 blog page will go to him, allowing readers to communicate their Windows 8 suggestions to him directly.  

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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