Everyone keeps referring to the latest iteration of the Redmond management team as "Microsoft 2.0". Ray Ozzie and Stephen Sinosfki, etc. But at the same time most people that are familiar with their behaviors and results know that they get things "right" at version 3.0. They have almost always executed on that concept. From IE to Office to SMS to SQL to Zune.
Thinking about that in terms of the Windows platform, I see Vista as Windows 2.0 essentially. Everything leading up to XP was 1.0. Indeed, 3.1x, 95/98, NT 3.5x, NT 4 and 2000 were like 0.x releases to me. XP SP2 in particular was like 1.0. Vista is like 2.0. Windows 7 will be like a 2.5 unless they pull a surprise and incorporate a lot of innovation that nobody expects. I doubt it, but it may happen. Think of what could be done if they really integrated the Live platforms into the product? Mesh in particular, but SkyDrive and Office Live Workspaces as well.
Combine all of this with the loosely forecast economic trend for 2009 and 2010 and if things work to their favor, Windows 7 could ride an enormous tide of success, particularly with businesses. Think about how many customers are suffering with XP and patching and tons of bloated add-ons that most of us know are significantly alleviated with Vista. The budgets are down and the bottom line is holding things back. Even virtualization is being held back. So much pent up angst in IT departments right now.
I haven't seen a landscape like this in 20 years: IT goals lag so far behind budgets and boardroom desires. When the economy starts feeding the bottom lines again, things are going to rebound pretty big. And if that happens in late 2009, I would expect 2010 to be a big year for IT departments throughout the U.S. and maybe everywhere. Windows 7 and Office 14 could arrive at just the right moment. Then again: what the heck do I know?