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Microsoft Windows 7: your questions answered

Vista's sucessor: when it's coming, what we know

Following Microsoft's announcement of the release of Windows 7, we find out just what the Windows Vista successor will be like and, more importantly, when it will be available.

Will Windows 7 be a major or a minor release?

The parsing of these adjectives is important because post-Vista, Microsoft said it was planning to update its operating systems on an alternating major-minor basis, with the major upgrades, think XP to Vista, every four years, with minor ones in between.

A good example of a minor upgrade would be Windows XP SP2, which though called a 'Service Pack', was unlike any other SP in the new features and capabilities it added to the previous OS.

Trouble is, Windows 7 sounds like a minor upgrade, but Flores and Sinofsky called it the opposite. "Another question we often get asked is whether Windows 7 is a major release," said Flores. "The answer is 'yes'."

Sinofsky used the adjective 'major' six times during the interview with CNet.com, as in "major undertaking," "major release," and "major and significant release".

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Another clue: Windows 7 will use the same device driver model as Vista. That OS, remember, required new drivers for all hardware, a disruption that even company executives struggled with, as some said in internal emails released earlier this year as part of a class-action lawsuit against Microsoft.

The mixed major or minor message confused at least one analyst. Michael Cherry of Directions on Microsoft said: "To me, a 'major' update means major changes to the core functionality of the operating system."

With Microsoft saying it was going to build atop Vista, not start from scratch, Cherry said he wasn't getting the impression that core functionality would significantly change.

NEXT PAGE: Why Windows 7 gets the silent treatment

  1. What will Windows 7 be like?
  2. More Windows 7 information
  3. Will Windows 7 be a major or a minor release?
  4. Why Windows 7 gets the silent treatment
  5. The curse of great expectations

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