No completely new kernel in Windows 7, Microsoft says

Posted by Wolfgang Gruener

San Francisco (CA) – Microsoft squashed hopes that the next version of Windows will come with a completely new kernel – a new kernel that had been discussed and presented as “micro kernel”. The foundation new operating system, apparently due for launch in early 2010, will be an evolutionary step over the Windows Server 2008 kernel, which is based on the Windows Vista kernel, an executive said in an interview.

Depending on your perspective, the interview published by News.com, reveals too much or too little information about the next-generation Windows operating system release. In any case, many may find it a bit sobering what changes we can expect and how little Microsoft is actually willing to reveal about the ideas it has with the new software.

Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president of Microsoft’s Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group, went into further detail especially on the kernel of the operating system, 32-bit and 64-bit support as well as the release date. Answering a question about the much discussed micro-kernel of a demonstrated software, Sinofsky said that the Windows 7 kernel will be related to today’s Vista kernel: Windows 7 will be based on the kernel of Windows Server 2008 kernel, which is an evolution of the Windows Vista kernel. The executive highlighted driver compatibility, saying that Windows 7 will not come with a new driver model.  “We're very clear that drivers and software that work on Windows Vista are going to work really well on Windows 7; in fact, they'll work the same,” he told News.com.  

To some, this statement may come as a surprise, as it was widely expected that Microsoft would use this new release of Windows to come up with a new technology foundation that is based on a micro kernel. What we know now is that “MinWin” won’t make it into Windows 7. The executive did not reveal much about the feature set of the software, but indicated that Windows 7 will be a “major release”.

Sinofsky confirmed that Windows 7 will be available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions, at its debut in 2010 – which will be nearly seven years after the first release of 64-bit capable processors. The executive described the “64-bit ecosystem” as still catching up” and a market that is determined by enthusiasts in particular. However, the company has still concerns over available drivers and Sinofsky noted that “a lot of drivers haven't been written yet, and we expect that they're available now with new hardware, and we expect that that library will be built up over time.”

The launch date remains at “three years after the general availability of Windows Vista”, which would be January 2010, if we count in all the delays that impacted Windows Vista. However, our industry sources still suggest that Windows 7 could see the light early enough to make the Christmas 2009 season – which sounds reasonable to us: There is no doubt that the Windows Vista Express Upgrade program has worked well for Microsoft, but not so well for consumers who purchased a new PC with Windows XP and an upgrade coupon OS early, but ended up with an inconvenient upgrade process and a delivery of the operating system several months after launch.

Read also: Can Singularity heal Microsoft’s Windows Vista wounds?