Next Windows Desktop OS: Windows 7
Windows Vista has barely been in the hands of consumers for six months, but its successor already has a ship date.
At Microsoft's Global Exchange (MGX) annual sales conference in Orlando last week, Microsoft gave preliminary information out about "Windows 7," its next desktop operating system. Microsoft said the new OS can be expected in 2010, giving it about a three-year development period.
That anticipated date should be taken with a large grain of salt, however, given that Windows Server 2008's original target ship date was 2005, and Vista was also several years behind schedule.
In this case, though, Microsoft might be working overtime to hit a release date more in line with the announced timeframe. That's because there's a great deal of unhappiness in the business community over Software Assurance (SA), Microsoft's program of paying for software in smaller yearly installments, rather than a huge layout all at once when a new product ships. Microsoft's delays in both Windows Server 2008 and Vista may result in SA customers paying more than they would have if they had not joined the program.
Microsoft is so concerned about SA anger that it specifically addressed the issue in a statement to Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley, who writes a column for Redmond magazine. According to Foley, Microsoft stated, "As part of our ongoing outreach to enterprise customers and partners, Microsoft has begun sharing plans for how they will continue to deliver value to businesses in the future, including Software Assurance customers in particular."
At the same time, the company left itself some wiggle room in regards to its target release date.
"Microsoft is scoping Windows '7' development to a three-year timeframe, and then the specific release date will ultimately be determined by meeting the quality bar," the statement said.
Microsoft also announced that Windows 7, formerly codenamed Vienna, will be available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, and will have consumer and business versions, like Vista.
According to a slide deck Foley saw at the conference, Microsoft is considering how to make Windows 7 a subscription-based service as well as a standalone product. As Microsoft announced recently, it is offering more and more of its software 'on-demand,' similar to what Salesforce.com does with its customer relationship management software.