News, views and reviews on Microsoft
Well here’s a useless story if ever we’ve seen one. PC Pro is reporting that Microsoft will be making some ‘quite major announcements’ when it releases the Windows 7 Release Candidate. Of course we don’t know when that will be, since Microsoft hasn’t told us that yet.
Here’s the full story:
At a briefing at Microsoft’s London headquarters today, the company’s Windows OEM manager, Laurence Painell told PC Pro that there will be a "couple of additional, quite major announcements" in the coming weeks.
Wow. Thank God we’ve got hard hitting investigative reporters to get us these juicy facts. Our lives are so much richer.
The only thing worse than a useless story like that is when a site like ours makes a whole post out of it. Yes, we see the irony.
I guess that’s the benefit of a beta program though. Microsoft can put stuff out there and gauge the reactions it gets.
Yes, not being able to change the desktop might be a little strange, but is hardly problematic. And there are even workarounds. This is nothing compared to the straight-jacket-fitting limits many enterprises put on their employee’s machines. I’ve had situations where you can’t change resolution, can’t add anything to the Start menu, taskbar, not even shortcuts on the desktop.
So take a chill pill folks. It ‘aint that bad. And its likely the intended audience for the Starter Edition won’t even care. The people who would be annoyed will install a full version on their netbook, notebook or desktop the minute they unpack their new machine.
There’s an odd post over on CrunchGear. They seem to be talking about this post from the Engineering 7 blog (which we covered on Friday also) although it is not actually linked to as far as we can tell. CrunchGear refer to an ‘ordinary Joe developer’ (presumably because the article from The Register that they had read also used that phrase).
As we noted in our post (and as a commenter on the CrunchGear post also notes) that ‘average Joe’ is actually Larry Osterman. Larry has been at Microsoft for 24 years and is one of the most experienced members of the Windows team (and Microsoft in general).
You should read the Engineering Windows 7 post. It is well thought out and explains the process well. The Register has a reasonable summary. But CrunchGear seems to have struggled grasping the main purpose of the post.
For a good laugh read some of the comments on The Register post. Looks like we fan boys are in the minority. I’ve never really understood why Linux zealots spend so much time trashing Windows (and note we have a lot of Linux around the place here – it is great for many things).
We’ve told you repeatedly that we’d spare you having to read the enormous long essays over on the Engineering Windows 7 site. But we may to take back our words soon.
The posts lately have all be excellent reading. This latest post by Larry Osterman covers the software methodology they’ve employed to build Windows 7. The key factor here is that no untested code goes into the main codebase branch.
Yes, it is a long read, but a fascinating one – especially if you are working in the software development space. As a software manager or developer there is a lot you could learn from this one post.
So grab a cup o Joe and spend a few minutes in learning mode. The post is here.
The official name for Windows 7 will be: Windows 7.
At least they won’t have to change the tag on their PDC agenda site.
We’re really getting impatient now. Bring on PDC. Why? Because when we hear about some new Windows 7 screenshots being available we get really excited. But then we get there, and wonder if they’re really anything new – they just look like Vista with a theme. (They are supposedly build 6.1.6801)
Sure, the orb glows, and there’s a picture of Paint with the ribbon, but apart from that, nothing much.
At least the wallpaper photo is nice!
Another hoax? We hope so. Because if that’s the best that can be shown for the time being we’re disappointed. But, perhaps we are still in Milestone 1 which won’t be having any visual refresh (if MSBob is to be believed).
But this latest post on managing windows is actually quite interesting. You can read the whole thing for yourself (assuming you’ve got the time), or you can settle for our opinion of the two key items of interest:
Firstly, research indicates that by far the majority of people only have one window visible on screen at any time (this is all based on validated data that Microsoft collect). That is, most users have one window maximised. Only 11% of users have 3 or more windows visible at any given time. (Note: most people have 6-9 windows open, but we are talking about how many they have visible).
This is interesting, especially when it comes to thinking about multi-monitor support. And this where the design considerations for Windows 7 come in – because more and more people have multiple monitors and/or widescreen monitors. One of the main goals of Windows 7 is to ‘reduce the number of clicks and precise movements needed to perform common activities’.
The second interesting item was the design decision (in Vista) to make the windows and taskbar dark when a window is maximised. Note, even if the window being maximised is on your second monitor, the taskbar will go dark.
It’s the difference between this (maximised):
and this (non-maximised):
According to the post, making it dark is to help make it clear that the window is in the special maximized state. They do this so that you know that the window is maximised and thus you can’t click and drag it. (Note however, that Raymond over at The Old New Thing thinks it was done as a performance optimization so there may be some doubt over the validity of this reason.) To us, this design decision seems strange, and frankly we’re going to make sure nothing is maximised again – because we much prefer the translucent look. Why didn’t they just make it an advanced option?
The post finishes on a telling point: the overall the aim is for customers to feel in control. Lately I’ve been learning about the lengths that Microsoft goes to to improve the user experience. The quantity of information collected is staggering. This is one area where I much prefer a Microsoft product (operating system or other) over open source.
Where else can you find a product that gets this much testing and usability assessment? (And don’t tell me Apple – because I’ve used iTunes and we all know what a pig of a program that is. Case closed)
On Wednesday the PDC blog announced that Windows 7 would be demonstrated at PDC in October.
Windows 7 is the next version of Windows after Vista. Attendees will be given a pre-beta (whatever the fuck ‘pre-beta’ means) build of Windows 7.
It will be demonstrated by Steven Sinofsky who is the Senior Vice President of the Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group. He writes a long boring blog here. Don’t worry, we read it and let you know of anything worth knowing.