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