Microsoft announces Windows 7, its successor to Windows Vista

Los Angeles – Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) has announced Windows 7 as the successor to Windows Vista. Company executives told attendees at the vendor’s Professional Developers Conference that the new OS will provide end-users with personalization, customization, collaboration and sharing capabilities and experiences.

Mike Nash, corporate vice-president for Windows Product Management at Microsoft, said with hardware advances, more affordable PCs, increased adoption rates of 64-bit editions and the growth of mobile computing and new form factors, it’s important for Microsoft to develop an OS that addresses all these trends.

“With Windows 7 our approach is to make sure we have a model that gives end-users a complete communication and sharing experience,” Nash said. “It’s designed to be an end-to-end solution that also works with leading third party services.”

Steven Sinofsky, senior vice-president for Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group at Microsoft, said more end-users are also looking to customize their desktops. And with the rise in popularity of small form factor computers, more households will have more than one PC.

Mobile PCs are driving the trend towards multi-PC households,” Sinofsky said. “Consumers (want) to connect their additional PCs to home resources like printers and other PCs in the home. In the business space, mobile PCs are what business workers are demanding from their IT departments.”

Linda Averett, group program manager for the Core User Experience of Windows at Microsoft, said to address the needs of multi-PC households, Microsoft has created HomeGroup. This makes it easier to share files and devices, such as printers, across a network. With HomeGroup, Windows 7 will automatically detect and connect with other PCs and devices on the same network.

Microsoft has also added the Libraries capability to enable users to more easily find the content they’re looking for. Users will also see a new taskbar in Windows 7 which lets end-users get to the information and files they want. In the taskbar, each open window will appear as a minimized graphic icon that will expand in size when the mouse cursor hovers on the image. Averett said this lets users find what they are looking for faster, without having searching in the Start menu and elsewhere on the computer.

“With the taskbar, you have access to Windows, applications, URLs and files, all in one easy place,” she said. “You can even decide what you want on the taskbar and in which order they appear in.”

A lot of the new features are a result of partner and end-user feedback, as well as learnings from Vista, Sinofsky said.

Gabriel Aul, group program manager for the Windows Fundamentals team at Microsoft, said Microsoft is increasing the focus on its partner ecosystem in advance of the release of Windows 7.

“We’ll have a laser focus on our OEMs,” he explains. “OEMs are where the hardware, software and the OS come together. We want to have a tight relationship with OEMs and work with them as early as possible so they can plan their products to work with Windows 7.”

Nash added Microsoft realizes there’s a “huge” opportunity to improve how it works with its OEMs and other partners, such as ISVs.

“Our customers can expect to see more work being done on our Web site, more Microsoft people will have a presence by being in stores to help with customers’ buying decisions, and we’ll continue to work with our OEMs to make sure our customers have the opportunity to experience the very best that Windows 7 has to offer,” he said.

The company would not mention any release dates or skus for Windows 7; all Sinofsky would say about its release was that it will be “released when it’s ready.”

Aul did say that Windows 7 should be the “most secure” OS the company has ever released, and added if an application or device can run on Windows Vista it should also run on Windows 7. The new OS also should be faster than Vista and offer better battery life, he added.

There’s been some mixed feelings and hesitation from end-users regarding the migration from Windows XP to Vista, but Sinofsky said Microsoft expects the transition from Windows Vista to Windows 7 to be a “seamless” one.

“We believe the issues we’ve had have already been addressed with Windows Vista Service Pack 1,” Nash said. “We’ve since built on what we’ve done with Vista and have engaged early on with our partners and gathered feedback from them to invest all of that into Windows 7.”

Added Nash: “We’re making sure we continue to give our customers the opportunity to use versions of Windows XP as long as they want throughout the Windows Vista cycle. But, of course, with the Windows 7 release, we want to make sure that’s easy for them to get to as well.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Maxine Cheung
Maxine Cheung
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