Building the next release of Microsoft Windows is an industry-wide effort that Microsoft approaches with a strong sense of responsibility and humility. Windows 8 reimagines Windows for a new generation of computing devices, and will be the very best operating system for hundreds of millions of PCs, new and old, used by well over a billion people globally.
We’ve been hard at work designing and building Windows 8, and today we want to begin an open dialog with those of you who will be trying out the pre-release version over the coming months. We intend to post regularly throughout the development of Windows 8, and to focus on the engineering of the product. Welcome to “Building Windows 8,” or as we call it, “B8.”
For the Windows team, this blog is an important part of developing Windows 8, as was our blog for Windows 7. Blogging allows us to have a two-way dialog with you about design choices, real-world data and usage, and new opportunities that are part of Windows 8. Together, we will start the unique adventure of bringing a major product to market. We’re genuinely excited to talk about the development of Windows 8 and to engage thoughtfully with the community of passionate end-users, developers, and information professionals.
Reimagining Windows from chips to experience
Windows 8 reimagines Windows. That’s a big statement and one that we will return to throughout this blog. It is also important to know that we’re 100% committed to running the software and supporting the hardware that is compatible with over 400 million Windows 7 licenses already sold and all the Windows 7 yet to be sold.
But so much has changed since Windows 95—the last time Windows was significantly overhauled—when the “desktop” metaphor was established. Today more than two out of three PCs are mobile (laptops, netbooks, notebooks, tablets, slates, convertibles, etc.). Nearly every PC is capable of wireless connectivity. Screen sizes range from under 10″ to wall-sized screens and multiple HD screens. Storage has jumped from megabytes to terabytes and has moved up to the cloud. The appearance of touch-screen mobile phones with the rich capabilities they bring, have together changed the way we all view computing. Most of all, computing is much more focused on applications and on people than on the operating system itself or the data. These changes in the landscape motivate the most significant changes to Windows, from the chips to the experience.
We showed you a preview of Windows 8 in June, demonstrating the user experience and providing an update on ARM SoC support. The next major event for Windows is our BUILD conference in September, where we will provide developers with more details about the full spectrum of tools and capabilities available to make the most of Windows 8. This blog is a chance for us to discuss the details and provide a behind the scenes look at the evolution of Windows 8.
With our preview in June, we started by showing you user experience, because it is the most visible change to Windows. Rest assured we’ve thoughtfully engineered changes across the full range of Windows capabilities. But this presents us a challenge in deciding where to start the dialog.
We know people who care a lot about networking want to know our plans there. We know people who are invested heavily in storage want to know what is new in that area. Many want to know about performance and fundamentals. We know developers, IT pros, and gamers all want to know what’s new for them. There is so much packed into Windows 8 and there are so many unique and important lenses through which to view Windows 8, and so we want to be sure to take the time to cover as many of these topics as possible, to build up a shared understanding of why we’ve taken Windows where we have. So in the next weeks we will just start talking specifics of features, since there is no obvious place to start given the varying perspectives. From fundamentals, to user interface, to hardware support, and more, if something is important to you, we promise we’ll get to it in some form or another.
We’ve heard people express frustration over how little we’ve communicated so far about Windows 8. We’ve certainly learned lessons over the years about the perils of talking about features before we have a solid understanding of our ability to execute.
Our intent with this pre-release blog is to make sure that we have a reasonable degree of confidence in what we talk about, before we talk about it. Our top priority is the responsibility we feel to our customers and partners, to make sure we’re not stressing priorities, churning resource allocations, or causing strategic confusion among the tens of thousands of you who care deeply and have much invested in the evolution of Windows. Rather than generating traffic or building excitement, this blog is here to provide a two-way dialog about the complexities and tradeoffs of product development.
Focusing on engineering
We started the Engineering Windows 7 blog in 2008 in recognition of the need to re-engage the community and rebuild trust relative to the engineering and design of Windows. While engineering Windows 7, we learned some great lessons and renewed our sense of responsibility to the community.
As we moved on to building Windows 8, we took those values and have built on them. Our focus on performance, reliability, compatibility, security, and quality is now baked into our engineering process even as we change Windows for a new generation. With these changes come new ways of doing work on Windows PCs as well as continual investments in hardware, software, and peripherals.
We intend to continue our dialog around performance and fundamental engineering of Windows. The feedback on these topics and the desire to talk about them in depth was clear during the development of Windows 7.
Starting our dialog
We know that blogging about Windows 8 will bring out the passionate opinions of many people, including members of our team. As a team we’re all going to participate—many of us will author posts, and all of us will read and take note of your comments on this blog. We’ll participate in a constructive dialog with you. We’ll also make mistakes and admit it when we do. It is almost certain that something will hit a nerve, with the team or with the community, or both, in the blog posts or in the product, or both. In any case, we’ll work hard to have constructive conversations with you, share the data, and, when the situation calls for it, make thoughtful changes.
Feel free to send us your thoughts via comments or email—we can’t respond to every question we receive, but your suggestions for blog topics are welcome. The email contact link in the right pane goes straight to my inbox without any filter (except spam filtering). Please note that we are also making this blog available in several other languages (acting on feedback from the Engineering Windows 7 blog) and you can expect to see those posts within 48 hours of the English language post.
If you’re looking for notifications of posts, then be sure to follow us on Twitter @BuildWindows8. Look for shortened URLs at “win8.ms” with links to posts and videos.
With that, we’ll just ask you to stay tuned and join us in this dialog about the engineering of Windows 8.