Veteran Windows developer Larry Osterman compares and contrasts the Windows 7 and Windows Vista development processes.
Here’s how Windows 7 is being built:
A feature is not permitted to be checked into the winmain branch until it is complete. And I do mean complete: the feature has to be capable of being shipped before it hits winmain – the UI has to be finished, the feature has to be fully functional, etc.
Back in the Vista day, it was not uncommon for feature development to be spread over multiple milestones – stuff was checked into the tree that really didn’t work completely.
You could see this process work itself out in real time back in mid-2006, when Vista release candidates were appearing. My Windows Vista Inside Out co-authors and I met with and talked to feature teams who were checking in unfinished code and changing core parts of the user interface up until what were supposed to be release candidates. Here, for example, is what I wrote on July 31, 2006:
There’s some truly great stuff in Windows Vista, but current builds are not at the quality level they need to be at for a release candidate to appear in the next few weeks. If management insists on hitting an arbitrary January ship date, the results will be disappointing at best, and potentially nightmarish.
Everything I’m hearing about Windows 7 from people who’ve seen it and from those who are currently using it suggests that the new sheriff has done everything possible to make sure that the Vista experience isn’t repeated.
If you’re a Windows geek, Larry’s post is a must-read.