I’ve been working a lot with Windows 7 recently. I’ve also, as always, been using Linux distributions like Fedora, SLED (SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop), and Ubuntu. As Windows 7, Ubuntu 9.04 and Fedora 11 all approach their launch dates, I’ve been thinking about the differences in how they’re created and released.
With Windows, Microsoft creates its operating system in a black box. We really don’t know what they’re doing in there. Heck, sometimes, as the launch of Vista showed, even Microsoft doesn’t know what’s going on. That’s changed a bit recently.
No, Microsoft isn’t releasing any significant code to open source. What they are doing, however, is deliberately leaking betas of Windows 7. This not only helps to build up buzz, but it also lets Microsoft get real customer input on what’s really working, or not, with Windows 7.
While Windows 7 is being rushed out ASAP to make up for the Vista sales fiasco, Microsoft is still moving glacially slow by open-source standards. Vista was released on November 30th 2006. I expect to see Windows 7 out in September 2009. In other words, moving as fast as they could, it still took Microsoft almost three years to replace Vista.