Engineering Windows 7

Welcome to our blog dedicated to the engineering of Microsoft Windows 7

Back from the PDC…next up, WinHEC

Back from the PDC…next up, WinHEC

This has been an amazingly special week for the Windows 7 team.  We’re all incredibly appreciative of the reception of Windows 7 this week at the PDC.  Thank you!

All of us on the team have been closely watching the news reports and blogs of those who have been “kicking the tires” of the Windows 7 pre-beta.  The reception has been fantastic and we’re humbled by the excitement and enthusiasm for the release.  We know we have a ton of work ahead of us to get to beta and then the path to RTM, and the reception has definitely given us an extra special motivation (though we were already pretty motivated).

Next week is our conference dedicated to the hardware partners in the ecosystem we have talked about.  Called WinHEC (Windows Hardware Engineering Conference), we’ll have another series of sessions and keynotes.  Jon DeVaan will be taking the lead as we dive into the details of “fundamentals” and the work we are doing with some of the many partners involved in Windows 7.  WinHEC also has a strong focus on Windows Server 2008 R2 (the server built off the Windows 7 kernel).  These sessions will all be available online as well.

So with all the shows we’re taking a short break from the blog as the folks that do the presenting are also the writers (myself included).

Below is a list of all the sessions on Windows 7 from the PDC.  Please take some time to have a look as the information is very detailed for sure.  How about using the comments on this post to ask questions of the sessions that you’d like to see more details on down the road?  That would be really helpful for us to target our posts.

Many of you have written asking about the beta and how to sign up or download it.  The best source for information on that will be the site which our product marketing team owns and will keep up to date as the beta information is available.  Also note that the Windows Vista blog which is where you will see announcements / news has been updated to reflect the inclusion of Windows 7.  This blog is now known as the Windows Blog.

One of the very fun moments for me at the PDC was an “Open Space” session on the floor of the “Big Room” which was an open-microphone discussion.  Channel9 captured this and might be a fun watch.  See

For those of you interested in the Windows 7 APIs and what’s new for developers there is an overview document that you might find valuable.  See Windows 7 Developer Guide on MSDN.

Thank you very much for all the emails you have sent.  I always share them with the team and really appreciate it.

Presentation URL
KYN02 Day Two #1 - Ray Ozzie, Steven Sinofsky, Scott Guthrie and David Treadwell (Windows 7 starts +17:00 minutes)
PC01 Windows 7: Web Services in Native Code
PC02 Windows 7: Extending Battery Life with Energy Efficient Applications
PC03 Windows 7: Developing Multi-touch Applications
PC04 Windows 7: Writing Your Application to Shine on Modern Graphics Hardware
PC13 Windows 7: Building Great Audio Communications Applications
PC14 Windows 7 Scenic Ribbon: The next generation user experience for presenting commands in Win32 applications.
PC15 Windows 7: Benefiting from Documents and Printing Convergence
PC16 Windows 7: Empower users to find, visualize and organize their data with Libraries and the Explorer
PC18 Windows 7: Introducing Direct2D and DirectWrite
PC19 Windows 7: Designing Efficient Background Processes
PC22 Windows 7: Design Principles for Windows 7
PC23 Windows 7: Integrate with the Windows 7 Desktop
PC24 Windows 7: Welcome to the Windows 7 Desktop
PC25 Windows 7: The Sensor and Location Platform: Building Context-Aware Applications
PC42 Windows 7: Deploying Your Application with Windows Installer (MSI) and ClickOnce
PC43 Deep Dive: What's New with user32 and comctl32 in Win32
PC44 Windows 7: Programming Sync Providers That Work Great with Windows
PC50 Windows 7: Using Instrumentation and Diagnostics to Develop High Quality Software
PC51 Windows 7: Best Practices for Developing for Windows Standard User
PC52 Windows 7: Writing World-Ready Applications
ES20 Developing Applications for More Than 64 Logical Processors in Windows Server 2008 R2

See you on this blog soon enough!


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  • Will there be videos of sessions from WinHEC 2008 like PDC?

  • Howdy folks—so many comments.  If I can speak for the team, we’re just having a blast reading all the kind words and the enthusiasm.  THANK YOU!  

    Off to WinHEC -- stay tuned on -- the videos are available.  

    (Note -- still working on the spam detection.  I know it is annoying if comments are not accepted.  This one was rejected a few times too).

    @RonV – we loved your comment :-)  We have tried to address many common suggestions and it is great that it is getting noticed by folks.

    It seemed like a good idea to tackle a few of the questions raised in the comment threads so here it goes…

    Just fyi, we are of course aware of the excitement/enthusiasm around “unlocking” the beta features that happen to be in the beta.  Ed Bott’s blog explained in some detail the difference.  Please keep in mind that the code isn’t done and is neither the final design nor fully implemented.  So running the pre-beta is a configuration where your mileage may vary, so to speak.  See

    @pmenadue and @ Windows 7 Forums– We showed the native support for the VHD format (both in diskmgmt.msc and diskpart.exe work).  We talked about how you can also natively boot a Win7 VHD via configuring the boot configuration data store editor (bcdedit.exe).  It is a bit tricky to use these in the pre-beta but for the beta we will definitely be sure to do a post that outlines the steps to use these.  We’re using the bootable VHD quite extensively right now for testing and deploying server builds daily.  It is pretty cool!

    @Laith – we won’t announce the system requirements until later in the development cycle.  As you’ve’ seen, we have a strong focus on “fundamentals” so we expect any machine that is running Vista to be a good candidate for a Windows 7 machine :-)

    @Domenico and @MattJC  – We are using the 2D animation within Windows 7 in a few places.  Stay tuned for more information.  We covered DirectWrite and Direct2D in

    @rlopez – Several (ok quote a few) have been clear in suggesting that we implement “virtual desktops” in Windows 7.  This is something we decided not to include this time.  There are just too many challenges / seams in how this works across third party software that we felt it would not be complete.  The right way to address this is to create and evangelize a deeper set of window location/memory APIs that can work across all applications (and be implemented there).  The challenge is just in arranging Windows in one space and then accidently having another copy of the program in another space—then you get into the “last one open decides the space and window location”.  So it is not unlike the challenges with multiple monitors, but sort of adds to the complexity.  That’s just one complexity.  We are definitely aware of the level of requests for this.  Please do check out Mark’s Desktops on sysinternals (

    @boen_robot and others – there were a few specific comments on precise window management or taskbar behavior.  I’d encourage folks to check out the sessions on these and to stay tuned for the beta.  When we read the comments we think we are understanding what the potential questions might be and think that we should be ok in terms of the concerns.  Check out for “design principles” and for “welcome to the desktop”.

    @boen_robot kicked off a good discussion about AERO – I think folks arrived at the right spot.  Nearly all PCs from the past 2 years are capable of running Aero.  Generally speaking if you run across a machine where a clean install does not produce an AERO desktop that is likely because the driver is not available on Windows Update.  You might need to go to the *PC Manufacturer* to obtain the driver, especially if the PC is a laptop as many laptop graphics chipsets are customized by the PC maker.  This is the standard practice, especially for discrete graphics.  As folks know, there are cases where DWM has crashed or been turned off due to a graphics intensive/full screen app—in those cases a reboot helps.  Also, a quick test I do is to run the “WEI” (Windows Experience Index) scoring (properties on Computer) to see if AERO kicks in.  The “default” video driver is designed to work all the time and does not support any graphics specific functionality.

    @boen_robot – A great point on learning.  One thing we want to do is continue to improve the connection to online assistance.  We’re not pre-beta testing the Windows web site, but we do expect to continue to have more and more “content” for folks there.  That’s for sure the best way we see at delivering this type of help.

    @LostLogic – the task bar is going to remain anchored to the primary monitor.  We built in a bunch of options to allow it to have “high capacity” and hopefully that will meet the primary needs.  The challenges of spanning monitors or different resolutions, orientations, and visualizing across the monitor boundaries were going to yield too many edge cases we felt.  One thing to check out with multiple monitors is how the windowing behavior really streamlines things.  Have a look at how when you drag to a second monitor you can easily maximize or dock with one motion.  Super cool!

    @mvadu – The desire for recovery media that is Windows only is certainly good feedback for OEMs.  We do encourage all OEMs to make the recovery process super easy and OEMs definitely agree and want to do that.  Do keep in mind that from an OEM perspective, recovery is “return to the original state”.  More and more OEMs are shipping partitioned hard drives in an effort to encourage customers to keep documents on the other partition.  

    @anonymous – A number of blogs have gone through all the options in the new taskbar.  As you will see in the beta, while we don’t switch to “XP” mode we do support the notion of text labels, grouped/ungrouped windows, etc.  So I think if you want to look “comfy” you certainly can.  FWIW, I am definitely at the point where switching “back” now hurts :-)

    @bluefisch200 – we will have a number of new keyboard shortcuts.  Also, we have specifically worked on grouping 1000's of files in explorer.  Stay tuned!

    @snaven – send those cards and letters to Apple!  Device Stage is open to all hardware manufacturers.



  • Steven wrote

    "@Laith – we won’t announce the system requirements until later in the development cycle.  As you’ve’ seen, we have a strong focus on “fundamentals” so we expect any machine that is running Vista to be a good candidate for a Windows 7 machine :-)"

    Hahaaaa! THAT is funny!

    (if it was not for the little smiley...)

  • It would be awesome if you guys fix the problem of (in multiple displays) screens disappearing and staying in other screens (which have been disconnected or disabled) Maybe it would be a nice addition to the new dock a right click option and a Send-To Display1 or something like that.

  • The aero interface is awesomely smooth when moving the windows around...

    But when scrolling in "images rich" window (for eg: WMP album arts, Live photo gallery, pictures in Win7 library, music album art in win7 library..) the experience is very choppy......It would be great if auto smooth scrolling is possible for such applications (like its in Picasa photo editor)......It will just make me fall in love with windows7 and ur team :)

  • I am very disappointed that Windows 7 will not have a new interface moves away from what we have seen so far.

    You are a large corporation and why you not able to create a better interface for Windows 7? All the time you playing with the same GUI instead to create something revolutionary.

    In addition to the interface in my opinion a revolution should touch the Windows Explorer.

    It would be useful to add the ribbon interface and tabbed browsing that it can finally compete with the legendary Windows Commander and his successors.

    It will be nice to add something like Mac OS X Leopard dock...

  • @steven_sinofsky

    Well, I'm a PC assembler (the network thing mentioned above is a "side" service, so to speak), so I do to users exactly what you say. After I install Windows, I install the drivers that come with the motherboard and other components, install additional software I know to be useful (like Adobe Reader, K-Lite Mega Codec Pack, etc.), and update Windows manually. Sometimes I'd also install the latest drivers as given on the hardware manufacturer's site. MY users come out of my store running Windows for a long time and without complains... but that's only after I touch their PC. Before that however, even "advanced" users (read - ones that were able to run their PC and follow the on screen instructions) tend to ask me why is their PC slow, and how to get their internet running*.

    So looking at this from a consumer perspective - users expect to run their PC, optionally follow some instructions to a certain point and use their PC. You can NEVER, EVER, count on a user to do additional tasks like install drivers, programs, etc. and even if you could (i.e. if the person knows what a "driver" is), expect them to use the default settings, which in 8/10 of the cases means additional crapware being installed.

    If driver installation was prompted during installation, such "Advanced" users will easily figure out they actually need to put a CD (or something) in, and enable everything on their PC right away. No need to go for me about such simple things... and no need for YOU (Microsoft and the Windows team in particular) to scavenge drivers and ship them with Windows... at least not as strong need as otherwise.

    On the bright side, if you don't implement this, I'll have stuff to do. Then again, I don't charge enough for this kind of stuff (and I can't, as there's a strong competition here).

    I also want to note one more thing which I'm not sure was clearly understood: I'm asking for a PROMT, not DEMAND. Users should be able to skip the screen in question if it so happens that they don't have drivers or don't want to install them at installation time for whatever reason.

    *yeah, about that... where I live (Europe/Bulgaria/Plovdiv), Wireless internet is not that popular, and way too often, ISPs use static IPs. Having said that, internet (and thus Windows Update) doesn't run out of the box. In addition, the (W)LAN is not always recognized by Windows (even Vista), thereby forcing manual installation of drivers.

  • @digitx

    Did you saw the first presentation in the post? There are a few very interesting changes which are different than what we've seen so far in Windows. In fact, the new window grouping concept reminds me a little of MAC OS X's dock. Close enough for my (conservative) kind of taste. Ribbon is now a WPF API which means it can (and is) used by some Windows applications, and can be easily used by third parties as well. As far as "revolutionary" goes - anything you have in mind?

  • GBM InkShow: Windows 7 Running on a LS800 Tablet PC


    :D Nice!!

  • @digitx: Just look at the screen shots of Windows from PDC...That's it

    @steven_sinofsky: You didn't answer my questions or is it too early to answer my questions?

    I have one request: Microsoft shouldn't let the OEMs install crap wares (pre-installed) in Windows. I have seen so many complain that Vista is too slow, it takes so long to start Vista etc. And they are all generally because of crap wares pre-installed. Recently my uncle was saying the same thing, it was a Sony Vaio laptop. It took about 2-3 minutes just to boot on his machine. When he purchased that laptop, there were so many third party software pre-installed besides drivers, many were trial versions of software which was the primary reason behind slowing down Windows. He was about to exchange it and get XP or a Mac but then I took his laptop and just reformatted and installed Vista again and now he just loves his computer!!

    So guys do something, don't let OEMs install crap wares w/o their customers consent because it will hurt the end-users that means it will hurt Microsoft too :)

  • An important suggest:

    When "Hide extensions for known file types" in folder options is disable, then when we want create new file, or rename a file, windows will auto select just file's name, not fileName+extensionName. This will speedup our works(and is good for moodlesses!) Do you know my purpose?

  • @steven_sinofsky

    Oh, I forgot to mention one more thing. Having a promt at installation time will make users more cautious of their driver CDs. Right now, in almost all instances, when a person buys a PC from me and later comes for a reinstall (virus, etc.), I ask "And the installation CD?" and the answer is "I lost it" or "It's at home" (says a person who's from the other side of the town). When users know that I'll need a CD to reinstall their OS (either they'll know from experience, or from a savvy (online) friend), they're far more likely to keep an eye on it and not forget it. Yeah, I know I can warn them (and I do), but having a first hand experience or a trusted party to tell it to you is a whole other thing.

  • Taskbar needs to be re-sizeable and be able to pick a color for theme , codecs need to update themselves trough media player , media player thumbnail preview needs no frames around or it looks ugly...

    Why is Vistas core so big when Winmin8 is 50mb? Why can't people test more newer builds yet?

    Why java, adobe acrobat , open office and soem other company softwares create bootloaders when we already have superfetch for it?? Nero software seems do add more and more bloatware whats also bad kick for PC when you are beginner...

  • @Prixsel

    Taskbar IS resizable... right click on the start menu and uncheck "Lock the taskbar". Then grab the upper side of the start menu and drag it up to where you want it.

    It DOES pick the color theme of the OS (in Vista adjustable by right click and "Personalize").

    SOME codecs update themselves over WMP, but not all. I'm not sure if it's WMP's fault or the codecs' themselves... or maybe the formats (AVI, MPEG) don't offer comprehensive enough metadata abilities for WMP to locate the codec and get it... I don't know.

    I'm not completely sure as to whether the WMP preview needs a frame. It appears like it could use it. It may look ugly, but it serves a purpose - it sets it apart from other apps you may have.

    The Windows core, AFAIK is really lite. That's how Winmin and others are created after all - they take the core, and on top of it put only what's a must from their developers' point of view. The Windows we see is bloated because it is created for more scenarios than Winmin like builds.

    I'm not sure what you mean by "test more newer builds yet". What more do you want than the PDC release? Access to the internal Windows builds? What's next? Windows going open source?

    For JAVA, Adobe Reader, Open Office and the rest, you'll have to ask the respective companies why they do that, not Microsoft. If those companies say they are forced because of lack of good APIs from MS, THEN come again and say (on their behalf) what APIs must MS make so that those companies can abandon their ways.

  • What I missed in the PDC was how Windows 7 will cope with PCs of various ages. Surely it is possible to automatically define scenarios based on state-of-the-art PCs, PCs with Pentium 4 or similar, Pentium 3 with fast processors etc. Something like that should help a lot in making Windows run fast on anything....

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