Windows 7 released to manufacturing

Microsoft Corp announced Wednesday the timely release to manufacturing of its Windows 7 operating system and Windows Server 2008 R2.

Following a promise to deliver the next version operating system following Vista within three years, the announcement signals that “we have delivered on that promise and delivered on time,” said Rich Reynolds, general manager of Windows commercial marketing with the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant.

“It’s obviously an exciting day for Microsoft and our partners,” said Reynolds. “It marks the culmination of a very rigorous engineering process.”

The final code of the operating system has been delivered to partners who can then develop products with the new system to be available Oct. 22, just in time for the holiday season, said Reynolds.

Having met the final stage of the engineering process, Reynolds trumpeted the company’s success in meeting the various milestones throughout the development of Windows 7, such as the January beta release and the release candidate in May.

“We have delivered on that promise and delivered on time,” said Rich Reynolds

Reynolds credited partners with providing input to help the company get to this stage in development, and spoke positively of the engagement with the development community. “We are very pleased with the transparency and communication throughout the process,” he said.

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have finalized testing of the code “and are ready for the last milestone to deliver some exceptional products to the marketplace,” said Reynolds.

In an e-mail to ComputerWorld Canada, Michael Cherry, research vice-president for operating systems with research firm Kirkland, Wash.-based Directions on Microsoft, said that under the leadership of Steven Sinofsky, the goal of the Windows 7 team was to manage development and testing along a predictable schedule that partners could count on.

“While the Windows team only committed to shipping within three years of the release of Windows Vista, a release to manufacturing at this point indicates they met that goal,” said Cherry.

While Cherry does think Microsoft did a good job openly collaborating with the development community, he said the real test will be in October with the general availability of the software. “That is when we will see if the partners’ hardware and software products are compatible with Windows 7,” he said. “I should add that I am not expecting any real problems in this area.”

Windows 7 is designed with the end user in mind, having taken into account feedback from the end users and partners, said Reynolds. In fact, he said, there were more than 10 million customers in the customer experience improvement program, from which 400 million user sessions were received and considered in creating new features.

Research was also conducted from 4,000 IT professionals worldwide, said Reynolds, to understand security and system management needs. He named several early adopters that will be deploying the new operating system shortly after release, including Montreal-based Bombardier Inc..

One OEM among the partner community that worked with Microsoft is Markham, Ont.-based Toshiba Canada. In an interview with ComputerWorld Canada, Toshiba’s director of communications, Sherry Lyons, agreed that the engineering process with Windows 7 was collaborative and transparent. “I think we’ve seen a change in Microsoft in that they’re being more responsive. They are listening,” said Lyons.

Toshiba consumers will be very satisfied with the product when it comes out, said Lyons. “(Microsoft) set out to make it easier and I do think it meets that objective,” she said.

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