First details of Windows 7 made public

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Microsoft has demoed and released a pre-beta release of Windows 7 to developers. During development, more attention would have been paid to feedback from partners and customers. A full beta is coming early next year.

The next one version of Windows will be available three years after the release of Vista, in other words, a corporate release late next year and general availability early 2010, according to Microsoft. Windows Vista came a whopping five years after XP, and the many delays that preceded it the software company to be heavily criticized. The more stringent hardware requirements were also not well received by everyone – and are considered partly responsible for the slow adoption of Vista. For Windows 7, Microsoft has therefore decided not to increase the minimum requirements any further, in fact, one of the versions could run on a netbook. The new operating system would therefore consume less resources and start, run and shut down noticeably faster than Vista. In addition, it would consume less energy.

Windows 7 will simplify user tasks in several ways, according to Microsoft. For example, it supports multitouch gestures on touchscreen displays with Windows Touch, which also makes it possible to enter mathematical formulas ‘by hand’. There is also a central meeting point called the Device Stage to access plugged-in devices, such as cameras, telephones and printers, in a grouped manner. Access to audio and video equipment has also been simplified, users can, if desired, send media files to audio equipment via the Play To feature. Overall, it would have made it easier to share data with multiple devices on a home network. The taskbar has also been updated and shows icons of open applications. Microsoft has also improved the search capabilities in the OS, including an auto-suggest to refine search results.

Companies in particular have massively ignored Vista, something Microsoft is only too happy to avoid with Windows 7. The company is trying to do this with features such as Applocker, which simplifies access management for programs, and changes to the storage encryption tool Bitlocker, which supports will offer to create the necessary hidden boot partition on an existing Windows installation. There is also Bitlocker support for removable storage media such as USB sticks, and multiple machines can be locked with the same key.

There is also support for providing software updates to disk images and, thanks to the Libraries feature, users in the Explorer not only see files and folders on their own machine, but also on places on the network to which they have access. These can then also be searched in a single operation. Windows 7 also includes a feature called Branch Caching that centrally caches information that is pulled from the web or intranet on a corporate network.

Finally, Microsoft has made User Access Control less “bullying.” This security feature often results in users with permissions to use certain applications being harassed with pop-ups. The number of notifications in Windows 7 can be set by the user with a slider. The software company acknowledges that User Account Control went a bit too far, but emphasizes that the underlying idea was to make the operating system more secure. That setting hasn’t changed with Windows 7, according to Microsoft.

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