Windows 7

Windows 7, (formerly codenamed Blackcomb and later Vienna) is the working name for the next major version of Microsoft Windows and the successor to Windows Vista. Microsoft has announced that it is "scoping Windows 7 development to a three-year timeframe", and that "the specific release date will ultimately be determined by meeting the quality bar."

Windows 7 will ship in both client and server versions with the client versions available in both 32-bit and 64-bit editions. The server version of Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 , is 64-bit only. Little is known about the Windows 7 feature set, though public presentations from company officials have disseminated information about some features. Leaked information from people to whom the Milestone builds (M1, M2 and M3) of Windows 7 were provided also provides some insight into the feature set.



In 2000 Microsoft started the planning to follow up Windows XP and its server counterpart Windows Server 2003 (both codenamed Whistler) with a major new release of Windows that was codenamed Blackcomb (both codenames refer to the Whistler-Blackcomb resort). This new version was at that time scheduled for a 2005 release.

Major features were planned for Blackcomb, including an emphasis on searching and querying data and an advanced storage system named WinFS to enable such scenarios. In this context, a feature mentioned by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates for Blackcomb was "a pervasive typing line that will recognize the sentence that [the user is] typing in.

Later, Blackcomb was delayed and an interim, minor release, codenamed "Longhorn", was announced for a 2003 release. By the middle of 2003, however, Longhorn had acquired some of the features originally intended for Blackcomb, including WinFS, the Desktop Window Manager, and new versions of system components built on the .NET Framework. After the 2003 "Summer of Worms", where three major viruses − Blaster, Sobig, and Welchia − exploited flaws in Windows operating systems within a short time period, Microsoft changed its development priorities, putting some of Longhorn's major development work on hold in order to develop new service packs for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 that included a number of new security and safety features. Development of Longhorn was also "reset" in September 2004 (see Mid-2004 to Mid-2005: Development "reset") as a result of concerns about the quality of code that was being introduced to the operating system. The eventual result of this was that WinFS, the Next Generation Secure Computing Base, and other features seen in some of the Longhorn builds were deemed "not ready" for wide release and as such did not appear in Longhorn when it was released as Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

As major feature work on Windows Vista wound down in early 2006, Blackcomb was renamed Vienna. However, following the release of Windows Vista, it was confirmed by Microsoft on July 20, 2007 that "the internal name for the next version of the Windows Client OS" is Windows 7, a name that had been reported by some sources months before.


Microsoft's Ben Fathi stated on February 9, 2007 that the focus of the operating system was still being worked out, and he could only hint at some possibilities:
We're going to look at a fundamental piece of enabling technology. Maybe it's hypervisors. I don't know what it is" [...] "Maybe it's a new user interface paradigm for consumers.|Ben Fathi, Windows Core Operating System Division Vice President

Bill Gates, in an interview with Newsweek, suggested that the next version of Windows would "be more user-centric." When asked to clarify what he meant, Gates said:

That means that right now when you move from one PC to another, you've got to install apps on each one, do upgrades on each one. Moving information between them is very painful. We can use Live Services to know what you're interested in. So even if you drop by a [public] kiosk or somebody else's PC, we can bring down your home page, your files, your fonts, your favorites and those things. So that's kind of the user-centric thing that Live Services can enable. [Also,] in Vista, things got a lot better with [digital] ink and speech, but by the next release there will be a much bigger bet. Students won't need textbooks; they can just use these tablet devices. Parallel computing is pretty important for the next release. We'll make it so that a lot of the high-level graphics will be just built into the operating system. So we've got a pretty good outline.

Later, Gates also said that Windows 7 will also focus on performance improvements:

We're hard at work, I would say, on the next version, which we call Windows 7. I'm very excited about the work being done there. The ability to be lower power, take less memory, be more efficient, and have lots more connections up to the mobile phone, so those scenarios connect up well to make it a great platform for the best gaming that can be done, to connect up to the thing being done out on the Internet, so that, for example, if you have two personal computers, that your files automatically are synchronized between them, and so you don't have a lot of work to move that data back and forth.

Senior Vice President Bill Veghte stated that Windows 7 will not have the kind of compatibility issues with Vista that Vista has with previous versions:

You've let us know you don't want to face the kinds of incompatibility challenges with the next version of Windows you might have experienced early with Windows Vista. As a result, our approach with Windows 7 is to build off the same core architecture as Windows Vista so the investments you and our partners have made in Windows Vista will continue to pay off with Windows 7. Our goal is to ensure the migration process from Windows Vista to Windows 7 is straightforward.


Milestone 1

The first known build of Windows 7 was identified as a "Milestone 1 (M1) code drop" according to TG Daily with a version number of 6.1.6519.1. It was sent to key Microsoft partners by January 2008 in both x86 and x86-64 versions. Though not yet commented on by Microsoft, reviews and screenshots have been published by various sources. The M1 code drop installation comes as either a standalone install or one which requires Windows Vista with Service Pack 1, and creates a dual-boot system.

On April 20, 2008, screenshots and videos of a second build of M1 were leaked with a version number of 6.1.6574.1. This build included changes to Windows Explorer as well as a new Windows Health Center.

A standalone copy of build 6519 was leaked initially to private FTPs by BETAArchive on June 10, 2008, which quickly spread to many torrent trackers.

Milestone 2

According to the TG Daily article of January 16, 2008, the Milestone 2 (M2) code drop was at that time scheduled for April or May 2008. A Milestone 2 build was demonstrated at the D6 conference with a build number of 6.1.6589.1.winmain_win7m2.0804?3-1???. The build had a different taskbar than found in Windows Vista, with, among other features, sections divided into different colors. The host declined to comment on it, stating "I'm not supposed to talk about it now today".

Milestone 3

According to Paul Thurrott, Milestone 3 (build 6780) was shipped to Microsoft employees and close partners in the week of September 7, 2008. Described as visually and functionally similar to Windows Vista by Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet and Stephen Chapman of UX Evangelist, some bundled applications in Milestone 3 now use a ribbon interface similar to that of Office 2007., the same site that was behind the original leaks of Milestone 1 pictures and video, has since leaked 39 images, and 4 videos of Windows 7 build 6780, though Microsoft has since forced them to take the images down. Many applications that had been integrated into previous versions of Windows have been removed, including Calendar, Contacts, Mail, Meeting Space, Movie Maker, and Photo Gallery and are available as downloads in the Windows Live Wave 3 beta release. has since leaked 192 images of Windows 7 build 6780.

On October 8th, 2008, 34 screenshots of a new Windows 7 build 6801 was released by

Later builds

Microsoft will distribute a new pre-beta build of Windows 7 at its Professional Developers Conference. According to Softpedia, the first beta will arrive in December 2008. The release date of a release candidate is listed as "to be determined." Different Microsoft representatives have confirmed the second half of 2009 and around January 2010 as the release date of Windows 7, but says that June 3, 2009 is the planned release date.


According to reports sent to TG Daily , the Milestone 1 build of Windows 7 adds support for systems using multiple heterogeneous graphics cards and a new version of Windows Media Center. New features in Milestone 1 also reportedly include Gadgets being integrated into Windows Explorer, a Gadget for Windows Media Center, the ability to visually pin and unpin items from the Start Menu and Recycle Bin, improved media features, the XPS Essentials Pack being integrated, and a multiline Calculator featuring Programmer and Statistics modes along with unit conversion.

Reports indicate that a feedback tool included in Milestone 1 lists some coming features: the ability to store Internet Explorer settings on a Windows Live account, updated versions of Paint and WordPad, and a 10 minute install process. In addition, improved network connection tools might be included.

Many new items have been added to control panel including: Accelerators, ClearType Text Tuner, Display Color Calibration Wizard, Gadgets, Infrared, Recovery, Troubleshooting, Workspaces Center, Location and Other Sensors, Credential Manager , Biometric Devices, System Icons, Windows Solution Center, and Display.

In build 6780, the Windows Security Center has been renamed the Windows Solution Center (Windows Health Center in earlier builds) which encompass both Security and Maintenance of the computer.

In the demonstration of Windows 7 at D6, the operating system featured multi-touch, including a virtual piano program, a mapping and directions program and a touch-aware version of Paint.

According to released PDC 2008 (taking place in October 27-30, 2008) session information, Windows 7 discussions will cover "enhancements to the taskbar, Start Menu, thumbnails and their desktop elements, a new networking API with support for building SOAP based web services in native code (as opposed to .NET based WCF web services) , new features to shorten application install times, reduced UAC prompts, simplified development of installation packages, and improved globalization support through a new Extended Linguistic Services API .

Methods of input

Hilton Locke, who worked on the Tablet PC team at Microsoft, reported on December 11, 2007 that Windows 7 will have new touch features. An overview of the touch capabilities was demonstrated at the All Things Digital Conference on May 27, 2008. A video demonstrating the multi-touch capabilities was later made available on the web on the same day.

Also, Bill Gates has said that Windows 7 is also "a big step forward" for speech technology and handwriting recognition.

Virtual hard disk

On May 21, 2008, Microsoft posted a job opening for Windows 7 regarding work to implement VHD support, i.e. support for single-file containers that represent an entire hard drive including partitions, and transparently performing I/O operations on this as a typical hard drive, including boot support.

In Windows 7, our team will be responsible for creating, mounting, performing I/O on, and dismounting VHDs (virtual hard disks) natively. Imagine being able to mount a VHD on any Windows machine, do some offline servicing and then boot from that same VHD. Or perhaps, taking an existing VHD you currently use within Virtual Server and boost performance by booting natively from it.

Boot performance

According to data gathered from the Microsoft Customer Experience Improvement Program, 35% of Vista SP1 installations boot up in 30 seconds or less. The more lengthy boot times on the remainder of the machines are mainly due to some services or programs that are loaded but are not required when the system is first started. Microsoft's Michael Fortin, a Distinguished Engineer on the Windows team, noted in August 2008 that Microsoft has set aside a team to work solely on the issue, and that team aims to "significantly increase the number of systems that experience very good boot times." They "focused very hard on increasing parallelism of driver initialization." Also, it aims to "dramatically reduce" the number of system services, along with their processor, storage, and memory demands.

Antitrust regulatory attention

The development of Windows 7 has already attracted the attention of the antitrust regulators who oversee Microsoft's operations following the 2001 United States Microsoft antitrust case settlement. According to status reports filed, the three-member panel began assessing the prototypes of the new operating system in February 2008.

Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Jupiter Research said that, "[Microsoft's] challenge for Windows 7 will be how can they continue to add features that consumers will want that also don't run afoul of regulators."


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