Excerpts from the blog Like crocuses in the yard, hints of what's coming in Windows 7 — the successor to Vista — are starting...

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Excerpts from the blog

Like crocuses in the yard, hints of what’s coming in Windows 7 — the successor to Vista — are starting to appear.

Enthusiast Web sites are reporting the Windows 7 tidbits as leaks, but I wonder if there’s a deliberate seed-planting effort going on, to get software developers excited about the new stuff coming out of Redmond.

Windows 7 chatter really started rolling last week when TG Daily reported that a “milestone” build of the software was released to partners and could ship in late 2009, ahead of the expected 2010 release.

On Tuesday, someone posted an “unofficial review” of the milestone build in Neowin’s forums. That was followed by an anonymous but legitimate-seeming comment submitted to the istartedsomething.com blog, “confirming” the authenticity of the review and adding specifics about the project.

The gist of the comment was that there is more cool stuff in the product and connections with Windows Live online services will be “killer.”

That comment also described the “measured” approach that Steve Sinofsky is taking. The Windows engineering boss isn’t trying to include every visionary improvement in this particular release, so there are likely to be many small changes and a few big ones; some of the team’s big ideas will have to wait until Windows 8.

Then blogger Mary Jo Foley joined the fray by posting parts of a vision memo/online manifesto written last summer by three vice presidents involved with Live and mobile services.

Both the memo and the inside commenter talked up efforts to integrate Windows 7 with Live online services, but they don’t say “integrate” or “bundle” and instead described “seamless experiences.” The commenter even noted that Live isn’t getting special treatment in Windows 7 and is using development hooks “that will be available to anyone.” Are Microsoft lawyers vetting anonymous blog comments now?

Into the Inkwell

Mark Anderson, the Friday Harbor tech commentator, consultant and newsletter publisher, has a new job.

Anderson announced this week that he’s now chief executive of Project Inkwell, a computers-in-education initiative spawned a decade ago by his Strategic News Service newsletter community.

Inkwell aims to be a standards body for computing platforms used in K-12 education. It also advocates for every student having a computer, with backing from companies such as IBM, Microsoft and Red Hat.

Anderson will continue to publish the SNS newsletter, but he’s been more involved with Inkwell for several months, since the departure of its previous chief executive, Bruce Wilcox.

“I thought I had no extra time and now I have two jobs,” he said, adding that the job overlaps with his SNS role because both involve staying in touch with tech industry leaders and trends.

Anderson said he wants Inkwell to move faster. Although discussions of the project began a decade ago, it has lately been eclipsed by higher-profile education efforts such as the One Laptop Per Child project.

He said Inkwell is now starting a project in Utah and entering discussions with Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire and state officials in Arizona.

How would Washington state pay for laptops for every student?

“It’s not my job to answer that question — that’s above my pay grade,” Anderson quipped.

Maybe Anderson should talk to Kal Raman, the former drugstore.com boss whose Bellevue education startup, GlobalScholar.com, announced a partnership with the South Carolina Department of Education.

South Carolina plans to use GlobalScholar’s technology to develop its online curriculum platform. The news release said the company’s “online tools allow educators to communicate with parents and students regularly to illustrate work performed, note upcoming assignments and agree on clear objectives for each student.”

Spotlight on Melinda

Fortune’s terrific Jan. 21 cover story on Melinda Gates offers buckets of details about Bill’s better half and the role she’s played in the evolution of the foundation, Bill and even Microsoft.

Choice bits include Warren Buffett — who was part of the surprise engagement sprung on Melinda — speculating about whether he’d have donated the bulk of his fortune to the Gates Foundation if Melinda wasn’t there:

“Would Buffett have given the Gates Foundation his fortune if Melinda were not in the picture? ‘That’s a great question,’ he replies. ‘And the answer is, “I’m not sure.” ‘ “

The goal in granting Fortune all that access might have been to communicate how her accomplishments are the result of her focus, drive and vision.

Yet with all the glamorous details and quotes from Bono and Bill Clinton, it’s also a real-life fairy tale that ends with her emergence as a benevolent queen helping those who need it most.

This material has been edited for print publication.

Brier Dudley’s blog appears Thursdays. Reach him at 206-515-5687 or bdudley@seattletimes.com.