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Windows 8 Sneak Peek

Sneak Peek Into the Windows 8 Team

Microsoft has been burned in the past by revealing too much about upcoming products, which has led, at times, to over-promising. That hasn't been the case with Windows 8, which has been developed with almost military-like secrecy.

It's clear that Redmond's next OS will be unlike anything it's produced before. But with so little publicly-announced information available, most predictions about its features is little more than educated guesses.

A significant clue was just released, however. The structure of the development teams working to build Windows 8 could offer insights about what's coming next.

On Wednesday, Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division, explained the general team structure in his latest entry to the Building Windows 8 blog, which was launched on Monday. The planning, coding and testing efforts comprise about 35 teams, with each team responsible for a single feature area of the operating system. Each team consists of between 25 and 40 developers, according to the blog post, putting the number of Windows 8 developers somewhere in the range of 875 to 1,400 people worldwide. Microsoft also has program management, product designers and testers on each team.

The "features" handled by each team represent broad architectural aspects of Windows, Sinofsky explained. They don't just concentrate on a particular aspect of the operating system's user interface.

Sinofsky provided very few details in the blog, but the presence of an "App Store" team on his list implies that Windows 8 will have a center for developers to sell their Windows 8 applications. "Hyper-V" is on the team list for Windows 8, which is inline with earlier reports by Redmond contributor Mary-Jo Foley about client integration of Microsoft's hypervisor. However, a Windows 8 dev team can work on both client and server technologies, so client integration is not confirmed.

"For example, all of our kernel, networking, storage, virtualization, and other fundamental OS work is also part of Windows Server -- that’s right, one team delivers the full Windows Client OS and much of the foundation for the Windows Server OS," Sinofsky explained. "And some features are built in the core OS but are ultimately only part of the Server product."

An Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML) team will contribute, and that fact possibly indicates that Silverlight support won't go away with Windows 8's release. XAML is a Microsoft XML-variant markup language that works with Microsoft's Windows Presentation Foundation graphics subsystem. Silverlight uses XAML for Web graphics. Microsoft is also planning to make Silverlight work with Internet Explorer 10, which is the browser version expected to ship with Windows 8.

Microsoft created a lot of confusion among developers by not talking about its .NET and Silverlight platforms when announcing Windows 8. Instead, Microsoft stressed the importance of HTML 5 and JavaScript for Windows 8 application development. Possibly, this point will be further clarified at Microsoft's Build event in September.

So far, Sinofsky has only vaguely promised that Windows 8 will support hardware and software requirements that worked with Windows 7-capable systems. He didn't explain when a build of Windows 8 would be available.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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