Sunday, May 19, 2024

Is Windows 7 Really Mojave?

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We’re all familiar with Microsoft’s Mojave Experiment. The company’s marketing department gathered 120 Mac, Linux, Windows XP and Windows 2000 users, and showed them the next version of Windows, code-named Mojave.

After some praised Mojave, the slight of hand was revealed. No, it wasn’t really a new version of Windows, but Windows Vista in disguise. Gotcha!

See? Everybody loves Vista, and its bad reputation is all just a big misunderstanding.

(For the record, I publicly challenged Microsoft in this space to answer a few basic questions about the Mojave Experiment, which they have not done. I didn’t expect them to. Microsoft’s answers would have exposed their awareness that their Mojave Experiment was, well, questionable.)

The Mojave Experiment was designed to solve Microsoft’s biggest problem: People don’t like Windows Vista.

Microsoft has largely discontinued Windows XP. Far too many longtime Windows users are either not upgrading at all, or they’re “outgrading” — to Mac or Linux. Some are even paying extra for the version of Vista that allows them to legally downgrade back to XP.

Microsoft hopes Windows 7 will solve this problem by giving people a version of Windows they’ll actually enjoy using.

The expected Windows 7 launch date is January, 2010. I’ve been covering Windows since 1990. In all those years, Microsoft always runs way behind schedule for releases of new operating systems, often years behind. But Microsoft is apparently rushing the OS. Microsoft announced today that it will distribute a “pre-beta build” of Windows 7 at its Professional Developers Conference October 27. Rumors suggest that the company could release the shipping version of Windows 7 in 2009. Wow! How on Earth will they do that?

Is Windows 7 really Mojave?

In other words, is Windows 7 really Vista, but presented as an all-new version of Windows — just like in the Mojave Experiment?

How to Spot Mojave

No matter what they actually ship in the box, Microsoft will claim that Windows 7 is a truly new OS that solves all the problems they now deny exist in Windows Vista.

So how can you tell if Windows 7 is really a new operating system or if it’s actually Mojave — Windows Vista in disguise?

Microsoft once entertained grand plans for Windows 7. Will the OS be an attempt to execute that vision? Or will it be Vista with cosmetic changes — lipstick on a pig, if you will?

Back in May, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage at the All Things Digital conference to be interviewed by the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg. In the middle of that interview, the audience was shown what Ballmer described as “just a snippet” of Windows 7, which centered around iPhone- or Microsoft Surface-like multi-touch features. Microsoft executive Julie Larson-Green, who actually performed the demo, said explicitly that Windows 7 would use multi-touch technology from Microsoft’s Surface product.

Larson-Green demonstrated a few applications, including a fancy photo management tool that lets you slide around the screen, resize and file digital photographs using your fingers.

Mossberg asked her if multi-touch is being “built throughout the OS,” and she confirmed that it is.

So in May, Windows 7 was envisioned as something with multi-touch “throughout the OS,” and potentially with a photo tool for managing pictures with your fingers.

But Monday we learned that Windows 7 won’t even include Windows Photo Gallery — nor will it have Windows Mail, Windows Calendar, Windows Contacts, or Windows Movie Maker. These will be “replaced” by optional and comparable online tools that already exist on the Windows Live site.

So here’s one test. If Windows 7 at launch does not contain multi-touch support “throughout the OS,” we can assume it’s Mojave — Vista sold as something new.

The more important test will be less binary. If it looks like a pig, smells like a pig and acts like a pig, we’ll know it’s Vista with Windows 7 lipstick. If people dislike Windows 7 as much as they do Windows Vista, then the OS will essentially be Windows Vista in the minds of users.

Until the beta hits, we won’t know if Windows 7 is closer to Microsoft’s original vision, or just a “tweaked” version of Vista.

In other words, we’ll find out if Windows 7 is really just the Mojave Experiment, but on a massive scale.

Microsoft already demonstrated with the Mojave Experiment its belief that users are wrong to reject Windows Vista and are willing to love Vista once they’re duped into believing it’s a new version of Windows.

Since that’s Microsoft’s demonstrated perspective, it’s a good idea to be very skeptical of Windows 7.

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