Excited and whimsical speculation about future versions of Windows is a popular pastime, almost as much as complaining that newly-released versions are too different from the “old reliable” releases that everybody knows and (sometimes) loves. With Windows Vista recently celebrating its first birthday and preparing for the release of Service Pack 1, a team of developers at Microsoft is already busy working on its successor. While Microsoft has been pretty good about keeping the details of “Windows 7” under wraps, a few enthusiastic employees have leaked out a few details. As is usually the case in these situations, people have taken these tiny tidbits and added their own—often highly improbable—speculation. In this brief report, we’ll review what we know, what we expect, and what we’re calling bunk on, all based on our knowledge of Windows 7 from inside sources at Microsoft.
Separating the wheat from the chaff: One thing we all know about Windows 7 is the management team that will be leading the project. Jim Allchin—the veteran who led the Windows XP and Vista teams—is gone, and in his place is Steven Sinofsky, who previously headed up the Office 2007 project. This has raised all sorts of speculation that the Windows user interface will be getting a similar sort of “face lift” as the venerable Office suite did in its last release. Some have even gone so far as to say it would be “Ribbon-based.”