Microsoft Equips Partners for Continued Innovation, Business Growth With Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Readiness Program

REDMOND, Wash., — Feb. 2, 2009 — Windows is the choice of more than 1 billion customers worldwide. Its broad appeal is based on Microsoft Corp.’s efforts to make Windows a platform of innovation for thousands of software developers, device manufacturers, original equipment manufacturers, and others who form the Microsoft Windows partner community.

These partners are a key ingredient to the success of Windows innovation ultimately delivering new possibilities and choice for customers.

Mike Nash, corporate vice president for Windows Product Management.

Today Microsoft unveiled the Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Ecosystem Readiness Program designed to help Independent Hardware Vendors (IHVs), Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), developers, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and Original Device Manufacturers (ODMs) achieve compatibility and innovation with Windows 7.

The program provides partners with access to Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 beta builds, development and test toolkits, technical documents and application testing labs through Microsoft Connect. Software partners can join by going to:

Meanwhile hardware partners can go to the Windows Hardware Developer Central (WHDC) site to access the program:

PressPass spoke with Mike Nash, corporate vice president of Windows Product Management, to learn about the opportunities for partners and what they can do to prepare for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

PressPass: How are you engaging Windows 7 partners differently from past editions of Windows?

Nash: When we’ve discussed new versions of Windows in the past, we typically shared ideas as if they were final. Sometimes things would shift, which could make it difficult for partners to plan when they should begin developing products.

We’ve learned a tremendous amount from these experiences. In response we changed our approach to Windows 7, engaging with our partners early and planning with them in a more systematic way. We had the opportunity not only to watch how our partners were using and developing for Windows, but also to get their input on what was important to them.

Based on this approach, we were able to prioritize the things that developers cared about, and share an application programming interface (API)-complete version of Windows 7 at the Professional Developers Conference (PDC). We held the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) in November as well, and took the event to Asia to reach our partners in Beijing, Taipei and Tokyo.

We followed this momentum by delivering a solid and stable beta version at International CES earlier this month. What this means for partners is that they can confidently invest and start testing now because the Windows 7 beta will have the same API set that they will see in the final release.

PressPass: Can you outline some of the partner opportunities with Windows 7?

Nash: We’re focusing on making sure partners have a great experience on Windows 7 and can create opportunities based on the new features we developed.

For example, as digital cameras, smart phones, and other consumer electronics become more common, we have an opportunity to help customers get more out of their devices. Device Stage is a Windows 7 feature that will enable partners to create new experiences for customers while better meeting their needs through a new visual interface. With Device Stage, it is easier for customers to find and use applications and services for their hardware devices.

The multitouch features built into Windows 7 also provide an excellent platform for software developers. The platform enables access to multitouch data and provides manipulation APIs for stretching, rotating, or moving objects. Partners can build from this to create an innovative, natural way to interact with Windows PCs.

PressPass: What additional partner opportunities do you see with Windows Server 2008 R2?

Nash: Windows Server 2008 R2 enables new scenarios and capabilities while providing a platform for applications directly on the operating system, using the .NET Framework and Web-based applications and Web sites running on Internet Information Services.

Windows Server 2008 R2 enables significant improvements over the Windows Server 2008 release in key areas that provide opportunities to broaden the capabilities of existing applications and build new applications, such as LiveMigration with Hyper-V, Windows PowerShell 2.0, multi-core and many-cores, new NUMA support, Web Services APIs and .NET and ASP.NET on Server Core.

BranchCache and Microsoft Direct Access are two new technologies central to the Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 “better together” story enabled when the two operating systems are deployed together, providing developers with an opportunity to create new applications.

Developers can find more information about Windows Server 2008 R2 on MSDN at

PressPass: Partners seem excited about these opportunities. How does Microsoft plan to support their Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 efforts?

Nash: Today we unveiled the Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Ecosystem Readiness Program, which provides the Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 betas, tools and resources our partners need to build their expertise and understand the opportunities with these products.

The Ecosystem Readiness Program includes everything they need to make their products compatible and take advantage of the new features in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 that can make their products more desirable to our mutual customers.

Many of the investments we made for Windows 7 started with the development of Windows Vista, which contained a number of architectural changes that made it more secure than Windows XP. As most people know, these investments posed challenges as we changed some of the interfaces that applications and devices used to interact with Windows XP, which resulted in early compatibility issues with Windows Vista.

The good news is that the great work by our partners has resulted in significant improvements in compatibility of applications and devices on Windows Vista. Additionally, the reliability and security investments we made in Windows Vista will be retained in Windows 7, which means most applications that run on Windows Vista should run on Windows 7.

That said, as we continue to progress toward the release candidate and final version of Windows 7, we want our partners to test their Windows Vista-based products to ensure they run well on Windows 7. For partners who don’t yet have Windows Vista products, the opportunity is to build products that target both Windows Vista and Windows 7 because the architectures have similar foundations.

Windows Server 2008 R2 is a smaller incremental release to Windows Server 2008 and will also have a very high level of application compatibility.

PressPass: How can partners benefit from the Ecosystem Readiness Program?

Nash: There is no better time to take advantage of the tools and resources available in the program. Perhaps the most important benefit is access to the new beta builds of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, along with the updates to the Windows Driver Kit, the Windows Logo Kit, the software development kit, and other resources.

Finally, we want to make sure OEMs and ISVs are ready for the compatibility tests of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, so we’re providing technical support via our application testing labs. We realize that some partners are unable to travel to our Microsoft labs, so we’re also providing lab access online as well as through Live Meeting sessions. Additionally, we have virtual servers loaded with Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 on which partners can perform remote testing.

The goal is to ensure that partners’ existing hardware and applications are compatible with Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2; to test and address any potential performance issues; and to make sure their devices, applications and services can take full advantage of the new features.

PressPass: What are the top three things partners can do to get ready for the general availability of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2?

Nash: We are recommending three things to partners.

First, now that the Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 betas are available, we strongly encourage partners to download the code and tools. This will help them get a sense of the products’ capabilities and identify opportunities.

Secondly, hardware and software partners should go to the sites mentioned above to join the Ecosystem Readiness Program and access the resources available to begin testing their applications and devices on Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 at their earliest convenience.

Finally, it’s a great time for partners to validate that their products work on Windows Vista, which will carry over to Windows 7. The same recommendation applies for server applications that work on Windows Server 2003 but have not been upgraded yet to support Windows Server 2008.

PressPass: What are partners saying about Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2?

Nash: Overall, there’s been a lot of excitement. We heard from partners at PDC and WinHEC that they see great opportunities based on the Windows 7 features I mentioned like Device Stage and multitouch. We also had a beta release that was the most mature of any beta version of Windows. I think the combination of these things really drove a high level of excitement and enthusiasm.

Additionally, we saw this enthusiasm continue at CES due to significant interest in the Windows 7 beta availability and the features we showed.

We’re certainly focused on delivering innovation and it’s always interesting to see how our partners take advantage of new features in the product. I think the maturity and predictability of Windows 7 is going to drive a new level of innovation, which will be very exciting to see.

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