Windows boss Steven Sinofsky has pierced his veil of silence with what he promises will be the first of many blog posts detailing the work going into the release of Windows 8 - Microsoft's first mainstream operating system to support the ARM architecture.
While broad facts about Windows 8 have been known for a while - such as that it will include support for both x86 and ARM architectures, and borrow the tile-based Metro user interface from Windows Phone 7 - details of its engineering have been kept a closely-guarded secret.
Sinofsky himself has refused to talk on the matter, pointing those pestering him for details to the company's Build conference scheduled for September this year. While his latest blog post - the inaugural entry in a series entitled Building Windows 8 - doesn't offer much in the way of addition details, it does suggest that Microsoft is starting to ramp up the hype machine ahead of the operating system's release.
"Windows 8 reimagines Windows for a new generation of computing devices," Sinofsky, a man not particularly familiar with the concept of 'understatement,' said. It "will be the very best operating system for hundreds of millions of PCs, new and old, used by well over a billion people globally," he proclaimed.
"We're 100 per cent committed to running the software and supporting the hardware that is compatible with over 400 million Windows 7 licenses already sold," Sinofsky goes on to state, without actually covering the real issue at hand: the fact that an ARM build of Windows will require ARM builds of client applications, unless Microsoft is hiding a Rosetta-style compatibility layer to allow x86 code to execute on ARM chips.
"So much has changed since Windows 95," Siofsky claims, calling that release "the last time Windows was significantly overhauled." He points out the growth of non-PC devices - a segment that market watcher iSuppli claims will surpass PCs by 2013 - claiming that "today more than two out of three PCs are mobile - laptops, netbooks, notebooks, tablets, slates, convertibles, etc.
"We know people who care a lot about networking want to know our plans there," Sinofsky writes. "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." Sadly, he then goes on to fail to address any of those burning questions.
"There is so much packed into Windows 8 and there are so many unique and important lenses through which to view Windows 8," Sinofsky said, "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."
Rather than addressing questions directly in the blog, Sinofsky explains that the Windows team will be posting specific details over the coming weeks in order to receive feedback that can be rolled into the continued development of the operating system.
It's an approach that worked well for Windows 7, and should help the team avoid the poor reception that Vista, the less-than-well-received successor to Windows XP, got from both home users and corporations alike. "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," Sinofsky wryly confesses.
Sinofsky said various members of the Windows team will be writing posts for the new Building Windows 8 blog - or B8, for short - and that feedback is more than welcome. "We'll participate in a constructive dialog with you," he said. "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."