Windows 7 is here... 24 hours early.
Yes indeed the UK is jumping the gun today with copies of Microsoft's next generation OS dropping through users' letterboxes up and down the country. Why? It's all thanks to the national postal strike which begins tomorrow (finally something to thank Royal Mail for).
Consequently Microsoft held its Windows 7 launch event this morning and I popped along to take a look. What did we learn? As you might expect, not a great deal given the RTM has been in our possession for some considerable time already. In fact if you want in depth analysis check out our Windows 7 New Features and Windows 7 Performance guides. We also already know about upgrade RRPs, OEM pricing and even Student offers.
So perhaps what was most interesting was the change in attitude of Microsoft at the launch. In stark contrast to the pomp and ceremony that greeted Vista, the event was pleasantly low key and reasonably informal with no new toe curling slogans like "The Wow Starts Now". Of course the big difference this time around is the glowing reports from Beta and Release Candidate testers has done Microsoft's marketing for it, so it doesn't need to shout from the rooftops - something it acknowledged.
Where the company wouldn't be (understandably) drawn however was Windows 8 only stating it was "acutely aware of what our rivals are doing" and re-emphasising that "making Windows work well with cloud services is our long term goal."
Mistakes? I'd suggest just (a qualified) one: transition. No-matter the programming hassle involved Windows 7 should have offered an upgrade path from XP, but it could easily be counter-argued that wouldn't be in the best interests of key Microsoft partners like Dell, HP and Acer who rely on Windows 7 to greatly boost shipments of new PCs. Less acceptable is the inability to upgrade from a higher version of Vista to a lower edition of Windows 7.
For example, Vista Ultimate owners will not be able to upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium or Professional and Professional owners will not be able to upgrade to Home Premium. The justification is Microsoft doesn't want to "potentially take away features" from users making this move, but that doesn't take into account the new and added functionality they gain from moving to the new platform in the first place. Tut, tut.
That said it seems Windows 7 is destined to be the most successful and well received OS in Microsoft's history. Amazon UK, for example, today declared Windows 7 has become its biggest grossing pre-order product of all-time overtaking the likes of ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' and the Nintendo Wii.
We'll have a full review of Windows 7 soon, but I suspect - should you be one of the lucky users to get their pre-order copies today - you already know how good it is...