Windows 7 is due out mid-2009 (Windows Vista is "Windows 6"). So that means that machines shipping by Christmas 2009, may have it installed. Maybe, if nothing slips (Luke, my friend, get it done!). But, regardless of landing date: I'm calling that Windows 7 will be backwards-compatible and stable. If it has major problems (as all big Operating Systems launches are perceived poorly: unless you have access to the Steve Jobs reality distortion field), they will be in other areas.

Why? No technological reason. Market forces and corporate culture will ensure this.

Being stable & backwards-compatible would be the pendulum swing back. Vista is "unstable" (I somewhat disagree) and not very backwards-compatible. Windows XP was insecure. Microsoft took flak and came back with Vista which is much more secure. Now they are taking flak on stability and backwards compatibility. They'll take this feedback to heart next go round.

There are some additional reasons why Windows 7 will be backwards compatible and stable:

  1. Windows 7 is a smaller change from Windows Vista than was from Windows XP. It's more incremental than revolutionary. So, this means that it is simply more likely to be both more stable and backwards compatible: fewer things changed.
  2. Microsoft + Windows used to be all about backwards compatibility. Joel Spolsky argues that Microsoft has "lost that religion" (or at least that they are losing it) 1. But I think that it's something that they can regain. And I think they'll prioritize regaining it this go-round.

Links & Notes

  1. startin at: "Microsoft Lost the Backwards Compatibility Religion"
    Make sure to also read the fascinating anecdote about backwards compatibility in Windows 95 for SimCity

    The problem is that Joel works from the premise that "entities are one way." That is, a person who is X is always X. In this case: an entity (Microsoft) who is tending towards X (non backwards-compatibility) is going to go to X. When reality is more that people behave across a spectrum of types. I'm suggesting that Microsoft can behave as more or less backwards-compatible. Sometimes more, sometimes less. It depends on their internal decisions and external forces.

    Note: I'm channeling this idea from a Nova that I watched months ago but find a link to - my apologies (where is the bookmarking functionality in my PVR? clearly missing)
  2. Another article by Joel about a more recent Microsoft backwards-compatibility story/struggle -
    Staged as a Martian parable:

Thursday, October 09, 2008, 12:00 AM

tagged: backwardscompatbility, codingculture, joelspolsky, marketforces, microsoft, operatingsystems, predictions, windows, windows7, windowsvista

series: Quick Hits (38 other posts in this series)