Steven Sinofsky, Windows engineering head, offered a few important details about Windows 7 in an interview with CNET. In the interview, Sinofsky talked about how the new version of Windows is designed to build on top of Vista’s architectural changes without adding things like new driver models that can increase compatibility challenges. Below is the edited, but still rather lengthy transcript, of our conversation.
So, when Bill Gates was speaking in Miami, and said that Windows 7 was coming in the next year, was he referring to when the beta version would show up?
Sinofsky: What I think I want to say is what I just said, which is we said we’d be out there with a release of Windows 7 three years after the general availability of Windows Vista. We’re excited; the investments that we have are really about producing a major and significant release at that time.
I know you said you don’t really want to look back, so maybe looking forward a little bit…We haven’t heard a lot about Windows 7, but we’ve heard about a couple of things discussed. The real areas I’ve heard a lot about are this idea of a new kernel, a minimum Windows kernel that came up in a speech, and then some stuff around new user interfaces. Can you tell us a little bit more about where those things fit in with how you guys are thinking about Windows 7?
Sinofsky: We’re very clear that drivers and software that work on Windows Vista are going to work really well on Windows 7; in fact, they’ll work the same. We’re going to not introduce additional compatibilities, particularly in the driver model. Windows Vista was about improving those things. We are going to build on the success and the strength of the Windows Server 2008 kernel, and that has all of this work that you’ve been talking about. The key there is that the kernel in Windows Server 08 is an evolution of the kernel in Windows Vista, and then Windows 7 will be a further evolution of that kernel as well.
So, memory management, networking, process management, all of the security hardening, all of those things will carry forth, and maintain the compatibility with applications that people expect. Finally, we are going to make sure that the release is available both in 32 bit and 64 bit, which is an additional help for maintaining compatibility, particularly with device drivers. As the 64-bit ecosystem catches up, we expect more and more people, particularly enthusiasts, to be running 64 bit. For many people that’s a great scenario today. I know I run 64 bit on most of my machines, including my primary laptop.