Windows 7 RC Stress Testing Begins - InformationWeek

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Windows 7 RC Stress Testing Begins

Microsoft hopes to double the number of free tests during the Release Candidate phase because it doesn't want to repeat the same mistakes it made with Windows Vista.

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When Microsoft released a near-final version of Windows 7 on Wednesday, it did so with the awareness that it doesn't want to repeat the same mistakes it made with Windows Vista. In part, that means more testing and earlier engagement with the IT crowd.

The Release Candidate offered on Wednesday is closer to what Microsoft will release as final code than Release Candidates have been during previous Windows release cycles, and Microsoft hopes to double the number of IT pros testing Windows 7 for free during the Release Candidate phase.

"Our big call to action for IT pros is, 'Hey, go run Windows 7 and see how easy it is to install, does it work with the applications you use every day,' " Gavriella Schuster, senior director for Windows product management, said in an interview. "From our perspective, we are fundamentally redefining the quality that we require for release. [Windows VP] Steven [Sinofsky] has taken the stance throughout the development process that we're going to be much clearer, crisper, and we're going to require more testing. There's a much more restrictive exit criteria from each milestone."

That means Windows 7 is now entirely feature-complete, according to Schuster, and unless the European Union requires other changes, the only changes to the code will be minor bug fixes. Today, 99% of the drivers available for Windows Vista SP1 are already available for Windows 7, and up to this point, 94% of the PCs running Windows 7 Beta have had zero driver errors upon installation. Microsoft is also releasing a beta of the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor, which determines if a PC is ready for Windows 7.

Among those already testing Windows 7 is the Bright Group, a midsize electronics manufacturing company based in Australia with offices globally. When the Bright Group came to consultant Erdal Ozkaya with complaints about performance and incompatibility with its Sage Accpac database software late last year, the company had begun downgrading some of its Windows Vista PCs to Windows XP.

The Accpac compatibility problem was fixed by the time of Windows Vista SP2, and Ozkaya, a Microsoft MVP who works for a small consultancy called CEO IT Training and Solutions, pointed them to Windows 7. He set up a small production test group with four PCs, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. "They're now pushing me to upgrade all Vista PCs to Windows 7," he said.

Ozkaya said his reaction to Windows 7 has been night and day compared to his reaction with Windows Vista, but said Microsoft has its work cut out for it.

"To be honest, [at this stage] I was thinking Windows Vista was going to be another Windows ME," he said. "I wasn't recommending it to my clients. This time around, Microsoft has to convince IT professionals that hey, we did screw up with Windows Vista, but with Windows 7, it's better."

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