While speaking to a Gartner-sponsored conference in Florida, Steve Ballmer said Windows 7 was more than just a minor release:
"It's a lot more work than minor release," Ballmer said. "It turns out you can do a lot more than a minor release in what essentially is a 2.5-year period of time. There's no reason to just do a, quote, a minor release, in 2.5 years.
"It's a release that I think will do a lot what people will want to do on performance, cleanup in very nice ways on the UI," Ballmer added. "We're going to pioneer some of things in the way touch and multitouch is used in the user interface. We've improved what people call the shell the basic tools users have to manage programs and applications…It's a real release."
He characterized the upcoming version of Windows as Vista, but a lot better:
"I would characterize it as: Windows Vista, a lot better," he said, "Windows Vista is good, Windows 7 is Windows Vista with cleanup in user interface, improvements in performance. I'm not going to encourage anyone to wait; I'd go ahead and deploy Windows Vista today. I certainly run it, we run it everywhere at Microsoft. But we didn't have to go in an incompatible direction in order to make big strides forward in terms of cleanness of user interface, quality of user experience, performance."
But when MacDonald noted that Ballmer's answer seemed to imply that Windows 7 was simply "Vista R2," Ballmer cut in. "When you say R2, you're saying a few bugs got fixed. That's not what we're talking about. That's [Service Pack 1]," Ballmer said.