In keeping with my Windows 7 information deluge theme, Chris Flores provides an obviously-timed post on the Windows Vista Blog (which I'd image will soon simply be renamed the Windows Blog) discussing Microsoft's plans for communicating information about Windows 7:
I thought I would spend a minute giving you an update on where we are. First, yes, we are working on a new version of Windows. As you likely know, it's called Windows 7. We are always looking for new ways to deliver great experiences for our customers. This is especially true of Windows - where we're constantly examining trends in hardware, software and services to ensure that we continue to drive the innovation that has both made Windows the world's most popular operating system and has provided a foundation on which our partners built great products and businesses. When we shipped Windows 2000, we were already working on Windows XP and we started working on Windows Vista even before we released Windows XP. So naturally, we've been thinking about the investments we made in Windows Vista and how we can build on these for the next version of Windows.
What is a little different today is when and how we are talking about the next version of Windows. So, why the change in approach? We know that when we talk about our plans for the next release of Windows, people take action. As a result, we can significantly impact our partners and our customers if we broadly share information that later changes. With Windows 7, we're trying to more carefully plan how we share information with our customers and partners. This means sharing the right level of information at the right time depending on the needs of the audience. For instance, several months ago we began privately sharing our preliminary plans for Windows 7 with software and hardware partners who build on the Windows platform. This gave them an opportunity to give us feedback and gave us the opportunity to incorporate their input into our plans. As the product becomes more complete, we will have the opportunity to share our plans more broadly.
We know that this is a change in our approach, but we are confident that it will help us not only to build even better products, but also to be more predictable in the delivery of our products. We also know that this change has led to some confusion, so we would like to share information today that will hopefully clear up some of this.
Another question we often get asked is whether Windows 7 is a major release. The answer is "yes" -- it's hard to describe any product that is used by millions of people and worked on by thousands of engineers as anything else.
Wow. Sinofsky's comments suggest otherwise, as do the technical underpinnings of the system.
That said, the long-term architectural investments we introduced in Windows Vista and then refined for Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008 will carry forward in Windows 7. Windows Vista established a very solid foundation, particularly on subsystems such as graphics, audio, and storage. Windows Server 2008 was built on that foundation and Windows 7 will be as well. Contrary to some speculation, Microsoft is not creating a new kernel for Windows 7. Rather, we are refining the kernel architecture and componentization model introduced in Windows Vista. While these changes will increase our engineering agility, they will not impact the user experience or reduce application or hardware compatibility. In fact, one of our design goals for Windows 7 is that it will run on the recommended hardware we specified for Windows Vista and that the applications and devices that work with Windows Vista will be compatible with Windows 7.
This, too, suggests that Windows 7 is not a major new version and is instead Windows Vista R2.
We are well into the development process of Windows 7, and we're happy to report that we're still on track to ship approximately three years after the general availability of Windows Vista. As always, we will be releasing early builds of Windows 7 prior to its general availability as a means to gain feedback, but we're not yet ready to discuss timing and specific plans for any Beta releases. In the meantime, customers can confidently continue with their Windows Vista deployment plans.
So... They're basically not saying anything here at all, beyond admitting to what they've already said about Windows 7. The only new information, really, is that Microsoft has come to the conclusion that they must market Windows 7 as a major release even while explaining very clearly why it is, in fact, an evolution of Vista. This makes me wonder: Is the major release wording a hint that major new end user functionality is coming? Or are they simply pulling an Apple and claiming that every release is a major release now?