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Windows 7 Unveiled: Microsoft’s Last Chance to Finish Vista

The unveiling came at Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference (PDC) Tuesday

At its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) Tuesday, Microsoft showed off the desktop Windows 7, the new, supposedly improved and less cluttered – but not that dramatically different – next-generation Windows operating system it’s building as penance for Vista. PDC-goers were polite, nothing more.

At the PDC unveiling Microsoft handed around a pre-beta build and promised a broad, feature-complete beta early next year. It should hit market by January 2010 at the latest, earlier if the scuttlebutt is right.

Senior VP Steven Sinofsky (pictured) responsible for Windows admits that after dicking around with Vista for years - passed the time most people cared - "We really weren't ready at launch." Windows 7 is supposed to be different and not require as much work from the ecosystem or be constricted by, say, poor application and device compatibility - the hard work has already been done. (We can all of course wish they would scrap the whole thing and start again but then no bitching from the back pews.)

Senior VP Bill Veghte told Bloomberg that he was reluctant to take the job running Windows 7 sales and marketing in the wake of the Vista fiasco until CEO Steve Ballmer reassured him that he was still committed to the OS.

The news service says Veghte got what he wanted: the right to make changes in Vista and a big three-year ("I'm a PC") marketing budget for the now $17 billion Windows franchise.

The new pretty face Vista-based widgetry is heavy on multitouch dexterity - even for programs that aren't designed for touch screens so Microsoft better be right that touch screens will be popular.

Windows 7 also synchs with other PCs and devices - for instance, your office laptop will automatically sense OS-X-like your printer at home over the wireless network.

It's supposed to keep closer watch on data and privacy, recover quicker from problems, and generally make tasks faster and easier to do.

There's a new taskbar called Ribbon, new APIs and those annoying Vista alerts and warnings can be corralled in a virtual pen called Action Center.

Some of the interface furniture has been rearranged or discarded and applets like WordPad and calculator have gotten a facelift.

Windows 7 introduces Apple-like jumplists for organizing frequently used files, web sites and program features and a concept called libraries that automatically finds similar files on a PC, networked PCs and USB drives and stores them in a single, well, library.

Unlike Vista, the new OS also fits on netbooks with memory to spare to scare Linux away from the form factor and proving apparently that it isn't a resource hog like Vista.

Seven is also supposed to be quicker to boot.

PDC-goers were polite, nothing more.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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