And that explains why so many major changes have occurred since the Beta, I guess. It's nice having an impact on product development.

Sigh.

Anyway, Steven Sinofsky has addressed widespread criticism from beta testers and others (yes, including myself) that Microsoft is not listening to feedback and will not change Windows 7 in any appreciable way as a result. It starts off with the same mysteriously claim I've heard again and again. No, you won't be impacting the design of Windows 7. But someone did. Someone outside of Microsoft. Seriously, it happened before the beta even started. We listened. Really, we did.

Here's how he words it (the emphasis is mine):

By the time we've got running code thousands of people outside of Microsoft have provided input and influenced the feature set and design of Windows 7. As we're developing the features for Windows 7 we work closely with PC makers, enterprise customers, and all types of customers across small business, education, enthusiasts, product reviewers and industry "thought leaders", and so on.  We shape the overall "blueprint" of the release based on this wide variety of input.  As we have design prototypes or code running, we have much more targeted and specific feedback by using tools such as usability tests, concept tests, benchmark studies, and other techniques to validate the implementation of this blueprint. Our goal with this level of feedback is for it to be representative of the broad set of Windows customers, even if we don't have a 1:1 interaction with each and every customer.

Who are these "thousands of people"? Why are they not on the technical beta? Why did the tech beta not get code until almost a month after the Beta build was created?

The real problem here is that the feature set of Windows 7 was frozen well before the Beta release. So the feedback he discusses throughout this post is 99 percent bug testing, really (and 1 percent, we hear your concerns but have a million reasons why we can't change a thing):

In the first few weeks of the Windows 7 beta we had over one million people install and use Windows 7.

It has been a lot of work for us--but work that helps to raise the quality of Windows 7.

We have fixes in the pipeline for nearly 2,000 bugs in Windows code.

...

While writing this post, I received a “bug report” email with the explicit statement “is Microsoft going to side step this issue despite the magnitude of the problem” along with the inevitable “Microsoft never listens to feedback”. Receiving mail like this is tough—we’re in the doghouse before we even start.

You know, I'm sorry. I find this to be disingenuous. This bug report is representative of the feedback you get specifically because you have, in fact, been ignoring testers all along. I'm not talking about bug fixes. Fixing bugs is pretty much the minimum we expect. I'm talking about making necessary functional changes to a product that was essentially set in stone months before you handed it to anyone. The mindset over there appears to be that Microsoft knows best. That's where this attitude comes from. If you're in a dog house, it's a dog house of your own making.