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During the Professional Developers Conference (PDC2008) this week Microsoft has given much more of an insight to their upcoming mainstream operating system; Windows 7.
It wasn't that long ago we saw the launch of Vista and Microsoft usually tends to allow their OSs to mature for a number of years before releasing a superseeding version. However, while hitting shelves this time next year, Windows 7 isn't so much an entirely new design; rather, it builds on the foundation of Vista.
With that said, Microsoft are making sure there is plenty of substance in the upcoming OS to persuade many to upgrade. Microsoft are more about user friendliness this time around with a lot of work being done to the user interface to make things a bit more logical and just generally cleaner, especially in the case of the taskbar which has been fully reworked with some neat little tricks.
Another nice aspect of the OS is it's said to be much more efficient than Vista (wouldn't be hard), requiring less power and RAM to operate smoothly at all times which should be a welcomed change for notebooks and their battery life.
Ars Technica has published a full preview of Windows 7 here, which gives a good idea as to how it's all coming together. You can also find a stack of screenshots and info about the OSs updated Media Center at Charlie Owens blog, who is responsible for its development.
At PDC today, Microsoft gave the first public demonstration of Windows 7. Until now, the company has been uncharacteristically secretive about its new OS; over the past few months, Microsoft has let on that the taskbar will undergo a number of changes, and that many bundled applications would be unbundled and shipped with Windows Live instead. There have also been occasional screenshots of some of the new applets like Calculator and Paint. Now that the covers are finally off, the scale of the new OS becomes clear. The user interface has undergone the most radical overhaul and update since the introduction of Windows 95 thirteen years ago.
Mike Nash over at the official Windows Vista blog has announced that the next version of Windows codenamed Windows 7 operating system has been given an official name, "Windows 7".
Microsoft intends on showcasing a pre-beta "developer only release" with attendees in the next month or so at PDC and WinHEC.
Supposedly Microsoft gave its upcoming operating system the name "Windows 7" for simplicity reasons and for it will be the seventh operating system from the company.
The decision to use the name Windows 7 is about simplicity. Over the years, we have taken different approaches to naming Windows. We've used version numbers like Windows 3.11, or dates like Windows 98, or "aspirational" monikers like Windows XP or Windows Vista. And since we do not ship new versions of Windows every year, using a date did not make sense. Likewise, coming up with an all-new "aspirational" name does not do justice to what we are trying to achieve, which is to stay firmly rooted in our aspirations for Windows Vista, while evolving and refining the substantial investments in platform technology in Windows Vista into the next generation of Windows.
You can read more over here at the blog.
No doubt for the majority of you who moved over to Vista, the words "User Account Control" (or UAC for short) was quick to raise its ugly head and give you a sour experience; until you found out the pesky and overly domineering 'security' feature could be turned OFF, that is.
Well, you'll be glad to know Microsoft are now acknowledging that UAC was certainly way too restrictive and has learned from its mistake. The giant software mob hopes to put things right with Windows 7; UAC will still be there, but the company will first and foremost tone it down so it's not so 'in your face'.
You can read about the on-going development of UAC and how MS plan to improve it at this blog page on MSDN.
Now that we have the data and feedback, we can look ahead at how UAC will evolve-we continue to feel the goal we have for UAC is a good one and so it is our job to find a solution that does not abandon this goal. UAC was created with the intention of putting you in control of your system, reducing cost of ownership over time, and improving the software ecosystem. What we've learned is that we only got part of the way there in Vista and some folks think we accomplished the opposite.
Based on what we've learned from our data and feedback we need to address several key issues in Windows 7:
- Reduce unnecessary or duplicated prompts in Windows and the ecosystem, such that critical prompts can be more easily identified.
- Enable our customers to be more confident that they are in control of their systems.
- Make prompts informative such that people can make more confident choices.
- Provide better and more obvious control over the mechanism.
A pre-beta version of Windows 7 will launch on October 27th, according to this story from Fudzilla.
With glamorous Los Angeles, CA hosting Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference, between October 27th and October 30th, it seems that the Windows Vista successor will feature heavily in the line-up.
Apparently, Microsoft has promised to give away a 160 GB drive, containing a lot of beta and pre-beta software, with the most interesting inclusion being Windows 7.
The company's next OS, rumoured to be available in 2009, is set to debut support for some interesting technologies and we will keep you updated as more Windows 7 news emerges.
A fresh batch of Windows 7 screenshots have just appeared online over at this website.
The screenshots are of Windows 7 build 6780 and at this stage, besides the fancy multi-touch technology, it seems visually very similar to Windows Vista. Paint and Wordpad get some GUI tweaks and they do look much better.
Besides that though and maybe just a few tweaks to control panel options, at this point Windows 7 doesn't seem like anything to get super excited about.
As a quick heads up for those of you who make use of PhysX on your NVIDIA 8/9/GT200 series graphics card(s), there is a new build of the PhysX System Software available; Version 8.09.04, weighing in at 49.3MB.
This version supports both 32 and 64-bit variants of Windows XP and Vista. The release highlights include :-
- Supports for NVIDIA PhysX acceleration on all GeForce 8-series, 9-series and 200-series GPUs with a minimum of 256MB dedicated graphics memory.
- Experience GPU PhysX acceleration in several full games and demos today by downloading the GeForce Power Pack.
- Supports AGEIA PhysX processors and software runtimes (no change to PPU driver support).
- Includes the latest PhysX runtimes used in the latest game titles.
- Supports the following NVIDIA PhysX runtime engines: 2.8.1, 2.8.0, 2.7.4, 2.7.3, 2.7.2, 2.7.1, 2.7.0, 2.6.x, 2.5.x, 2.4.x and 2.3.x
- Supports NVIDIA PhysX acceleration on GeForce via CUDA 2.0 for SDK versions 2.7.3, 2.7.2, 2.8.0 and 2.8.1 (requires graphics driver v177.81 or later).
- The PhysX control panel can be found in the Windows Start Menu under NVIDIA Corporation.
Late last week, we covered reports claiming that the first Windows 7 beta release was heading for a December outing.
Now, however, if this article from InternetNews.com is to be believed, the Windows Vista successor has a planned release date for June 2009 - June 3rd, to be precise.
This information has apparently been sourced from an internal Microsoft calendar and, with Windows 7 being touted as an evolutionary step-up from Vista, it is suggested that a public beta will actually release on October 27th instead.
Whatever transpires, it certainly does appear that Microsoft is eager to put Vista out to pasture and, as the company steers Windows 7 towards general release, this is definitely one to watch.
The successor to Windows Vista may hit Beta status before the turn of the year, according to this report from ZDNet.
Whilst privileged few have worked with Microsoft on two milestone builds, namely M1 and M2, M3 will precede an actual Beta version of the OS which Microsoft hopes will repair Vista's poor image.
It isn't to say that there won't be some form of pre-beta build, such as a Community Technology Preview and, indeed, attendees of WinHEC in November will undoubtedly be hoping that Microsoft delivers some goods.
Yet, having said this, December does appear to be the month for the Beta process to commence according to unnamed sources.
Such a turn of events could theoretically put general availability of Windows 7, as it is currently known, in the late 2009 or early 2010 time frame.
VR-Zone has shared some information concerning upcoming AMD Desktop Software, covering AMD graphics and system solutions.
Of interest on the AMD Catalyst side of the equation, appears to be the mention of Lower UVD Power States for Windows XP and Vista operating systems, which are scheduled to make an appearance in Q4.
From the system software perspective, end-users can look forward to getting through two AMD OverDrive revisions by the close of Q1, 2009.
We can expect version 8.54 of AMD's Catalyst drivers on October 1st, according the above schedule, with each revision evidently taking a month between Release Candidate status and, General Availability.
According to the authors of the Engineering Windows 7 blog, the engineering team responsible for faster boot times has timed a early version of the upcoming operating system fully boot in under 15 seconds.
Apparently it's a big focus over at Redmond and we say about time!
For a PC to boot fast a number of tasks need to be performed efficiently and with a high degree of parallelism.
Files must be read into memory.
System services need to be initialized.
Devices need to be identified and started.
The user's credentials need to be authenticated for login.
The desktop needs to be constructed and displayed.
Startup applications need to be launched.
Startup can be one of three experiences; boot, resume from sleep, or resume from hibernate. Although resume from sleep is the default, and often 2 to 5 seconds based on common hardware and standard software loads, this post is primarily about boot as that experience has been commented on frequently. For Windows 7, a top goal is to significantly increase the number of systems that experience very good boot times. In the lab, a very good system is one that boots in under 15 seconds.
You can read more over here.