Despite my constant bashing of Windows Vista (mainly because, hell, it deserves it) I want Microsoft to do well. I think the Redmond giant puts up with a lot for trying to make an OS that works across hundreds of motherboard makes, GPU types and memory configurations not to mention backwards compatibility for older software, hardware and the like. So this is big news...
In short: a pre-beta release of Windows 7 was handed out to the developer community today as Microsoft at long last let the details spill on its next generation operating system. The spiel was predictable:
"We are bringing the best of the Web to Windows, and the best of Windows to the Web," said Ray Ozzie, Microsoftchief software architect. "From PC to the Web to the phone, and from the server to cloud, we are focused on enabling the creation of the next generation of user experiences that change the way we live, work and play."
What does this all mean however? Well for a start - while visually similar to Vista - Windows 7 is being touted as much more efficient, running faster on low powered systems (even netbooks with an Atom CPU and 1GB RAM) and cutting boot times dramatically by loading up only the basics users need to get started. Don't need Bluetooth everyday - it won't be loaded up unless you specifically need it. Logical stuff.
In terms of compatibility, refreshingly Microsoft believes everything that works on Vista should work on Windows 7 and a far wider array of codecs will be supported from the get go (including DivX, Xvid and AAC) while the love it/hate it (I actually love it) Ribbon menu structure used in Office 2007 will be the defacto layout for all Windows 7 programmes.
Other key benefits include far less user alerts - including the option to pick and choose what, if any, alerts are received, 'Jump Lists' which group most commonly used programmes and performed tasks, more unified applications, services and devices and integrated WiFi and 3G support. Naturally all that Windows 7 touchscreen functionality we're been prattling on about will be in there too with gesture controls (unsurprisingly reminiscent of Apple's commands) available to suitably equipped machines. What defines 'suitably equipped'? We'll probably find out in a few months.
In all then a simplistic way to describe Windows 7 is Vista done right - which three years on (a mid 2009 to early 2010 release is touted) it certainly should be. That may not sound great, but Vista promised a lot and with the sensible tweaks Windows 7 is promoting it may finally be the OS to get all those loyal XP users to make the jump.
Now time for all that developer feedback...