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Several stories today are tracking the status of Windows 7, the next version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system. Mary Jo Foley, who watches the OS as closely as anyone, states that a test version of 7 “is poised to make its public debut at the Consumer Electronics Show” next week in Las Vegas. She notes that Microsoft has said this test version, Beta 1, will be “feature complete.”
Ars Technica has details on the Beta build of Windows 7 that leaked onto the Internet over the weekend.
Language in the licensing agreement attached to the leaked Beta has the software expiring Aug. 1, 2009. Foley adds that the latest rumors she’s heard for a Windows 7 release to manufacturing are July. Ed Bott, who has more details from the licensing agreement, is saying May or June. And Adrian Kingsley-Hughes tested the Beta code.
InfoWorld, too, has a less technical look at Windows 7, telling people to expect “a fixed Vista [which] will be welcome to users who found the operating system’s security controls, new interface, and application compatibilities woes to be very off-putting.”
Meanwhile, Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land offers “Tough Love for Microsoft Search”: “I also feel the same people within Microsoft who are so diligently trying to succeed are let down by a company culture overall that sees the internet and search in particular as a kind of sideshow.” The lengthy essay makes this main point in several ways (the absence of Gates or Ballmer at any major search conference; the absence of search from Microsoft’s “Software + Services” tagline — in contrast to Google’s “Search, Ads & Aps”), as well as faulting the company for trying to over-integrate search with other products, failing to find a cohesive search brand and more.
With the year coming to an end, InfoWorld asks, “What future is in store for Microsoft?” The prognosis is mixed:
“Microsoft seems to have lost a cohesive outline for its future, allowing the debacle that is Windows and the bizarre interface changes in Office and Internet Explorer to come to market. Yet this same company has produced a great server operating system (Windows Server 2008) and sharing server (SharePoint 2007), and shows promising work in its touch-interface technology (Microsoft Surface), in addition to well-regarded midmarket business apps (Microsoft Dynamics) with a world-class user interface. It’s clear that there are actually multiple Microsofts with their own visions and execution strengths.”
InfoWorld goes on to describe five Microsofts of 2018, 10 years down the road, and asks readers which one they agree with. It’s an interesting exercise.
Mary Jo Foley also takes a gander in her crystal ball and it’s worth looking over her shoulder.
On the philanthropy front, The Financial Times has a profile of Patty Stonesifer, “The woman who built the Gates Foundation.” It gives her a lot of credit for the foundation as it stands today: “As Ms. Stonesifer heads to the Smithsonian Institution, she bequeathes Mr. Gates the world’s largest philanthropic organisation, the legacy of which – both its strengths and weaknesses – is almost as much hers as his.”