Windows 7: No, It Wasn't Made By You

Windows 7 was made by you. Windows 7 was made by me. Windows 7 was made by Wally down in accounting. By Beverly in sales. By Joe in building maintenance. Windows 7 was made by all of us millions of beta testers who eagerly shared our feedback and helped shape Microsoft's new OS into the marvel it is today!

At least that's what the company wants everyone to believe. However, those of us who actively participated in the beta process -- either officially, as part of the formal beta program, or unofficially by grabbing and testing every wayward build leak -- know the real story.

[ Get InfoWorld's 21-page hands-on look at the new version of Windows, from InfoWorld's editors and contributors. | Find out what's new, what's wrong, and what's good about Windows 7 in InfoWorld's "Windows 7: The essential guide." ]

For example, we know that, despite Microsoft's feel-good message about customer input, the truth is that Windows 7 was created largely through a hermetically sealed development process driven by Stephen Sinofsky and a select group of his closest advisers.

We also know that major design decisions -- like the new task bar -- were finalized months, if not years, before the first milestone builds leaked. And we know that, despite a massive public beta program, virtually nothing in the OS changed from the time it was first made available in January until the final bits were frozen in July.

The truth is that Microsoft's entire marketing campaign for Windows 7 is predicated on a lie. The company spin machine claims an unprecedented level of customer involvement, while our own truth detectors tell us that the exact opposite is true: Microsoft ignored the Windows community like never before with Windows 7. Even its "private" beta testers -- the exclusive group Microsoft invited to test the OS and then very publicly ignored -- are on the record as complaining about the lack of access.

Now to be fair, Microsoft probably didn't need a lot of input to figure out what it had to accomplish with Windows 7. Vista was and is a spectacular flop, and its many warts -- sluggishness, instability, an overbearing security model -- are still visible for all to see. As product lifecycles go, Vista's was dead on arrival; Microsoft executives have admitted as much in interview after interview.

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