The next major version of Windows is due to arrive in about two years, Microsoft let slip in a blog post on its Dutch website. That info was apparently supposed to be kept under wraps, as the software juggernaut has gone and removed all references to Windows 8 and replaced it with talk about the first Service Pack for Windows 7.
Should Microsoft release Windows 8 two years from now, that would put a three-year gap between it and Windows 7, which launched in October 2009. According to leaked slides that have popped up on the Web, the next version of Windows will include a faster startup, facial recognition as a security option, improved tablet support, and perhaps an app store.
In the meantime, Windows 7 Service Pack 1 is due to arrive in the first half of 2011, the Dutch blog post mentions.
The expression “kids say the darndest things” gets just about anyone under the age of 10 off the hook for bizarre remarks, but Microsoft PR is likely looking for someway to spin Steve Ballmer’s latest comments into this category as well following a recent interview at the Gartner Symposium. During the one-on-one with ZDnet’s Larry Dignan, Ballmer claimed that “the next version of Windows” was Microsoft’s “riskiest bet”. Given that such a large percentage of Microsoft’s revenue comes from Windows, this probably wasn’t the best thing to admit in a public forum, but his honesty certainly does give us lots to write about!
This begs the question, why is Steve so worried about Windows 8? ZDnet’s Mary Jo Foley speculated that it could be because Microsoft’s next operating system is rumored to be a radical departure from Windows 7, but since nothing has been officially confirmed by the company, we still have very little to go on. Leaked feature slides claim Windows 8 is going to be faster booting, have more advanced biometric security support, and maybe even an app store. Sure these are interesting features to a select few, but not exactly what most people would consider “risky”.
The more likely explanation is simply the natural fear built into Microsoft after the launch of Windows Vista. In many ways Vista failed because they tried to change core aspects of the operating system too quickly, and the compatibility problems caused a backlash that they are only now starting to recover from.
So should they make radical changes and risk another Vista? Or should they simply continue tweaking the UI and risk not making a compelling case to upgrade in two years time?
Firewire's long-term prognosis isn't looking very good at the moment. It's no longer uncommon for motherboards to ship without a Firewire port on the rear I/O panel, and though most mobos support the spec internally, you're now more likely to find an eSATA port integrated into your case than a Firewire port.
But the most damning piece of evidence that Firewire might be on its way out is a leaked Windows 8 slide indicating that Microsoft's next OS will sport better support for USB 3.0 and Bluetooth 3.0, but makes no mention of Firewire whatsoever. You might recall that Apple created quite a stink a couple of years ago when the Cupertino company dropped Firewire support from its MacBook line, but would Microsoft see the same kind of backlash if it were to drop Firewire when Windows 8 ships?
Firewire remains popular in the video and audio industries where users are quick to point out the faster transfer rates when compared to USB 2.0. But with USB 3.0 starting to take hold, the tide may be turning in its favor.
Are you ready to let go of Firewire, or should Microsoft continue to support the interface in Windows 8?
Microsoft's follow up the highly successful Windows 7 is already under development, and the first solid details have been disclosed to hardware partners. The leak comes in the form of some PowerPoint slides apparently provided to several manufacturers. The aptly named Windows 8 is said to focus on a number of issues that have been called out by reviewers and users alike.
Windows 8 is going to see a streamlined, faster start up and improved Hibernate support. There will be facial recognition login baked into the OS. Of course, Internet Explorer 9 will come preinstalled. One thing that we find really interesting is a so-called "Push-Button Reset" that would basically reinstall Windows without touching your files, applications, or settings. If true, it could be a giant leap forward in assuring system stability, but it sounds too much like magic to us.
On last thing that the leaked slides point to is a feature we're a little confused about. There will apparently be a Windows App Store in the new OS. It's unclear what that means. Will it just be a place to showcase high quality Windows applications, or a special repository that developers will submit apps to? Do any of these supposed features give you the warm fuzzies?
Microsoft is having a Windows conference in May, but don’t get your hopes up, no Windows 8 news is expected. The so-called Windows Summit is designed to help software and hardware makers to develop products and services that work well with the current versions of Windows and Internet Explorer. The Three day event is currently scheduled for May 25-27.
According to a Microsoft statement to Cnet, they are looking to attract developers “who are looking to engage with Microsoft on an intimate level or who haven't engaged with Microsoft in the past 18 months.” Sounds awkward. A (hopefully not as awkward) keynote will be given by Microsoft General Manager Mike Angiulo. Registration for the event will cost $399.
The conference will probably not contain any big news, to our dismay. Attendees are not even required to sign non-disclosure agreements. It seems like Microsoft is looking to reach out to new developers, and encourage them to work on Windows 7 and IE8. We have an idea how Microsoft could get said developers fired up. It involves a certain sweaty CEO pumping his fists and chanting “developers”. Who wouldn’t love that?
But what’s Windows 8 going to be like? One Microsoft employee, purportedly working on Windows 8, let his exuberance get the better of him and posted this on an MSDN blog (which has since been deleted but, because you can’t hide your sins once posted, has been cached): “The minimum that folks can take for granted is that the next version will be something completely different from what folks usually expect of Windows...The themes that have been floated truly reflect what people have been looking for [for] years and it will change the way people think about PCs and the way they use them. It is the future of PCs…”
So, Windows 8 will be “different from what folks usually expect of Windows,” “what people have been looking for”, and “will change the way people think about PCs”. There are some obvious responses to these proclamations: good, competent, useful, but, one suspects, Microsoft will be aiming a bit higher than this for Windows 8.
In another Windows 8 comment, John Magelarrs, Regional Vice President of Consumer and Online at Microsoft EMA said: “For me, Windows 8 will be mind-blowing.” There you have it--a whole lot more of nothing.
All this leaves Steven Chapman, at Microsoft Kitchen, wondering “just what in the heck Steven Sinofsky and crew are cooking up for Windows 8.” The best guess he can venture is that Windows 8 will be 64-bit only. Well, if it’s going to be mind-blowing, that’s the least we should expect.
It seems like just yesterday we were putting on our cardigans and hamming it up with complete strangers at our Windows 7 party, and that's because it kind of was. And with Redmond's latest OS barely three months old, there's already talk of Windows 8, including a release date that was supposedly leaked to the Web.
According to news and rumor site Fudzilla, former Microsoft employee Chris Green drew up a chart detailing Microsoft's roadmap for future product releases. In it, he reveals the following release schedule:
WIndows 8: July 1, 2011
Windows Server 2012: July 2, 2012
Office 2012: July 2, 2012
SQL Server 2011: July 1, 2011
SharePoint Server 2013: July 1, 2013
Exchange 2013: July 1, 2013
OCS 2010: December 1, 2010
These are all RTM (Release to Manufacturing) dates, and if they're legit, it means Microsoft plans to pull-forward the Windows 8 RTM date from what would typically be a three-year interval between OSes.
An interesting Microsoft product roadmap has turned up. The document shows the year 2012 as the tentative timeframe for a “major release” code named Windows 8. This would put it at about three years out from the release of Windows 7. The interval between Vista and Win 7 was also three years. This could signal a new regular release cycle for Microsoft. No indication if the “code name” will stick, or if Redmond will decide to change naming schemes once again.
Vista was pushed back three years from its original release date after much of the code was scrapped. If this image is to be believed, Microsoft is confident in its ability to avoid such delays again. The timeframe fits with previous rumors we’ve heard, so there’s no reason to be overly skeptical.
Is the three year plan reasonable? We’ll have to wait and see what Microsoft can cook up in another three years.
As we know, the successor to Windows 7 may already be in development. What we didn’t know is that Microsoft may be considering making a 128-bit version of the OS. It was suspected that Windows 7 would be the last version of Windows to ship a 32-bit version, but will there still be two different versions, 64 and 128-bit?
The clues came from a LinkedIn profile for one, Robert Morgan, a senior developer at Microsoft. In his profile, Morgan stated he was working on, “projects including 128bit architecture compatibility with the Windows 8 kernel and Windows 9 project plan.” There’s certainly no confirmation that Windows 8 will have 128-bit support, but Microsoft could be on the way to that technology. If not Windows 8, then maybe Windows 9.
This is all still very early speculation. We most likely won’t even see Windows 8 until at least 2011, but more likely 2012. We may see more clues in updates to Microsoft’s server products before that. Until then, keep an eye on LinkedIn. Apparently people love divulging details in their profiles.
Even though Windows 7 just went to manufacturing in July, there are already rumors about Windows 8. Microsoft’s Anders Vindberg confirmed that planning sessions were already being held for Windows 8, and 12 different working groups had been created. Most of these groups are currently management related.
Some recent job postings have hinted that Microsoft will be implementing a new “TLZ file compression engine” to improve Hibernate performance. So if you crave a quicker resume after Hibernating, you could get your wish. There may also be additional kernel protections using PatchGuard. These protections should increasingly hamper the efforts of malware designers.
Microsoft will almost surely be strengthening their server offerings in the next OS iteration. Microsoft’s Dublin application is likely to find its way into Windows Server. Some sort of cloud based services are also possible with the upcoming Windows Azure. We most likely won’t see Windows 8 until 2011 at least, but the Redmond giant may already be hard at work.