After – literally – years of delays Microsoft seems to have its operating system coding division slapped back into shape and is already putting dates on a Vista follow-up.
Ben Fathi, corporate VP of Microsoft’s Windows Core Operating System Division, is the suit with the wagging tongue and he says we can expect to see Windows ‘Vienna’ released by the summer of 2009.
“You can think roughly two, two-and-a-half years is a reasonable time frame that our partners can depend on and can work with" he said when pushed on the question by US publication (not store) PC World.
He went on to say the monstrous five year gap from XP to Vista had also changed Microsoft strategies for producing operating systems. “We realized that there were incremental things that we wanted to do, and significant improvements that we wanted to make in Vista that we couldn't deliver in one release," he explained saying that a shift to a more Apple-like incremental OS update system is on the horizon.
Fathi also blamed the significant work done in Windows XP’s second service pack (SP2) for delaying much of the work on Vista and said the company has realised that it tries to fix too much in one-off major releases.
So what can we expect from Vienna? Fathi was tight-lipped here simply saying “We're going to look at a fundamental piece of enabling technology. Maybe its hypervisors, I don't know what it is. Maybe it's a new user interface paradigm for consumers.” Vague, vague and more vague but at least it looks like we won’t have to wait half a decade to put some meat on these bones.
In fact, by my reckoning, the first Vienna public betas should only be 18 months away…
Update 15.02.2007: Kevin Kutz, Director of Windows Client, has now moved to play down Fathi's comments: "The launch of Windows Vista was an incredibly exciting moment for our customers and partners around the world, and the company is focused on the value Windows Vista will bring to people today. We are not giving official guidance to the public yet about the next version of Windows, other than that we're working on it. When we are ready, we will provide updates."