At the end of the past year, with Windows 7 Beta 1 wrapped up since mid-December, and Build 6.1.7000.0.081212-1400 leaked to BitTorrent websites, the obvious question was where was Microsoft going next with Windows 7? The answer, at least feature-wise, is not that far from the Beta. However, a representative of the Redmond company did confirm that there were secret features hidden inside Windows 7, even as the next iteration of the Windows client was in Beta stage, features that would be brought to the surface at an unspecified time in the future.
Following the public availability of Windows 7 Beta 1 Build 7000 downloads on January 10, 2009, I contacted Microsoft and asked them to confirm that the release was feature-complete, just as Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president, Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group, announced at the end of October and the start of November in 2008.
A representative of the software giant mentioned that no additional features would be added to Windows 7 past the Beta stage, but that users were bound to have a few surprises coming their way. “Windows 7 Beta is feature complete, however, we are keeping a few features back and will disclose them at a later date,” a Microsoft spokesperson revealed exclusively for Softpedia.
“The core development of Windows 7 is broken up into four dev milestones, M1, M2, M3, and beta. The pre-beta build is just our M3 build, it's the one that meets our exit criteria on feature completeness, performance,” Sinofsky stated at the Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles, on October 28. “It's not feature complete yet. In fact, much of the user interface work, which of course is at the top of the stack and the last part to come in, will be complete when we get to beta. (...)”
“The next step is the beta. The beta is going to be feature complete. It's going to be pretty good. It's not going to be final. It's going to be a beta. So, we're still not ready for performance benchmarking. We're still not ready to try out how every single edge case works, but it is the complete product as we envision it,” Sinofsky added at PDC 2008. (emphasis added)
Then, on November 5, 2008, the same Sinofsky, but this time at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC 2008), explained that “The [Windows 7] beta is going to be on that's going to go out very broadly, and we're going to get that done early in the next year, and that really will be feature complete.” (emphasis added)
It appears that with the next development milestones of Windows 7, Microsoft is adopting a strategy similar to what it did with the M3 pre-beta release, namely locking some features of the operating system from its users. In this regard, Windows 7 pre-Beta M3 did not allow user access by default to Aero Peek, Aero Snaps, the new Taskbar (the Superbar), JumpLists, Aero Shake, etc. The company, of course, did not offer any indication as to what additional features it had hidden in Windows 7, on top of those enumerated here that have been offered in the Beta build, or when it planned to bring them to the surface.
Windows 7 Beta is available for download here.