Microsoft on Monday issued its strongest-worded message yet about the upcoming Windows 7 OS: The system is now far enough along that the software giant's partners need to get on board with compatible software applications, hardware, and drivers. Clearly, what Microsoft is trying to avoid is the situation that dogged Windows Vista in its early days, where partners were not ready for the release of that system despite several months of warnings from the company.
To mark this milestone, Microsoft has issued its Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Ecosystem Readiness Program, which aims to help its hardware and software partners to create compatible and innovative solutions that work with Windows 7. (And with Server 2008, which is based on the Windows 7 code base.)
"With Windows 7, we prioritized the things that developers cared about, and share an application programming interface (API)-complete version of Windows 7 at the Professional Developers Conference (PDC)," Microsoft corporate vice president Mike Nash said. "We followed this momentum by delivering a solid and stable beta version at International CES earlier this month. What this means for partners is that they can confidently invest and start testing now because the Windows 7 beta will have the same API set that they will see in the final release."
In other words, developers can now begin working with Windows 7, even in beta, because the underlying APIs are not going to change before the final release. This, too, stands in sharp contrast to the experience with Windows Vista, which went through several years of often dramatic changes. The end result was that many developers simply gave up and waited on the final release before committing to testing their solutions on Vista.
Over two years later, of course, the situation has improved dramatically. Windows Vista is now broadly compatible with a wide range of PC-based software applications and hardware devices, and because Windows 7 builds off that Vista base, it will benefit from this work. Still, Microsoft warns that early testing will result in a better experience for customers when Windows 7 is released later this year. And it would like its partners to do that work now, not later.
"The goal is to ensure that partners' existing hardware and applications are compatible with Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2; to test and address any potential performance issues; and to make sure their devices, applications and services can take full advantage of the new features," Nash added. "The maturity and predictability of Windows 7 is going to drive a new level of innovation, which will be very exciting to see."