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Dissecting today's Windows 7 stories

So it's been a curiously big day for Windows 7 news stories. Unfortunately, there's really not much happening, despite all the attention. Let's take a look:

1. Windows 7 and backwards compatibility.
I've already blogged about this one, so just head over to my previous post for the details. The guy that wrote that article didn't actually ever work for Microsoft, as claimed on his bio page, and he clearly has no idea what he's talking about. He previously went by the moniker BOFH and used to create fake Longhorn screen shots.

Verdict: It's utter baloney. But since Slashdot picked it up, it must be true. Ah, the Internet.

2. Is MinWin really the new Windows 7 kernel?
The usually reliable Ed Bott delves into news about Microsoft replacing the kernel in Windows 7 with a more componentized version that's code-named MinWin. SuperSite readers will know that I've written about this topic a lot and have spoken to Microsoft on record about it. Unfortunately, Ed draws what I think is the wrong conclusion in this portion of his post:

He’s talking about the guts of Windows 7 here, but he could just as easily be referring to any other recent-vintage release of the Windows NT family.

It’s still bigger than I’d like it to be, but we’ve taken a shot recently at really stripping out all of the layers above and making sure that we had a clean architectural layer there, and we created what we call MinWin.

Now, this is an internal only - you won’t see us productizing this - but you could imagine this being used as the basis for products in the future. This is the Windows 7 source code base, and it’s about 25 megs on disk. Compare that to the four gigs on disk that the full Windows Vista takes up. We don’t have a graphics subsystem other than text in this particular build, so you can see that’s our Windows flag [referring to an ASCII art splash screen].

It’s a research project, not a product plan.

Not exactly. He meant that Microsoft wouldn't be productizing MinWin, not that MinWin wouldn't be inside other Microsoft products (aka Windows 7). When I spoke with Microsoft's Mark Russinovich about MinWin back in October 2007, he very clearly told me that MinWin was a new effort at restructuring the core portions of Windows (i.e. the kernel and surrounding code), and more revolutionary than the previous work that was done with Server Core in the Vista/2008 generation of the system.

Verdict: It's still too early to say, but my take on this is that Microsoft intends to continue evolving the Windows kernel in Windows 7 with a project that's current called MinWin.

3. Gates: Windows 7 may come 'in the next year'
CNET's Ina Fried picks up a single sentence out of Bill Gates' mouth and turns it into an entire article. Here is the only pertinent bit:

In response to a question about Windows Vista, Gates, speaking before the Inter-American Development Bank here [in Miami], said: "Sometime in the next year or so we will have a new version." Referring to Windows 7, the code name for the next full release of Windows client software, Gates said: "I'm super-enthused about what it will do in lots of ways."

And that's it.

Two things. Unless Ina didn't quote the most important part of what he said, Gates never actually said Windows 7 and thus could be referring to Windows Vista SP2 for all we know. I will look around to see if anyone else has this quote or whether the speech is on Microsoft's Web site.

Secondly, assuming Gates was in fact talking about Windows 7, this guy is leaving his day to day job at Microsoft in less than 3 months. My guess is he's not the most knowledgeable source about schedules these days.

Verdict: There's no way we're going to see Windows 7 "in the next" year, no matter what Gates says.

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