Most Vista work came in last two years

Last-minute rush typified preparation: insider

It may have taken Microsoft half a decade to bring out a new version of its client operating system, but the real development work on Windows Vista only took around two years, says Steve Ballmer.

Microsoft’s chief executive officer reflected on what the company had learnt from the process of bringing Vista to market during a question-and-answer session following the business launch of Vista in New York earlier this month.

“Time is sort of a funny thing,” said Ballmer. “You need to give new technologies time to incubate before you try to bring them together. Let each [technology] come to market individually and then do the integration.”

Microsoft spent the first two years of its Vista development process building a variety of new technologies and then struggled to integrate them, says Ballmer. The third year went smoothly, as Microsoft’s developers focused their efforts on the Windows XP Service Pack 2, with some of that technology ultimately winding up in Vista, not XP. The bulk of what is now Vista was developed in the last two-plus years, says Ballmer.

Ballmer extolled the virtues of Vista, but added that Microsoft won’t rest on its laurels. It aims to support the major changes already under way in computer hardware in its next release, notably the shift from single-core to multi-core processors and improvements in network infrastructure.

It also wants to offer ICT administrators more functionality and include storage management and other features for software developers. A future operating system would also need to address the move from software to software-as-a-service, says Ballmer.

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