If you're holding out on upgrading to Windows 7 until the first Service Pack sees the light of day, you may want to reconsider. Windows 7 SP1 won't usher in huge, sweeping changes like some of the Service Packs we've seen for other Windows OSes, and instead will introduce small changes, Microsoft said.
"For Windows 7, SP1 includes only minor updates, among which are previous updates that are already delivered through Windows Update," Brandon LeBlanc, a Windows Communications Manager at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post. "SP1 for Windows 7 will, however, deliver an updated Remote Desktop client that takes advantage of RemoteFX introduced in the server-side with SP1 for Windows Server 2008 R2."
LeBlanc went on to emphasize that Windows 7 is ready for commercial deployment now and that many industry experts recommend against waiting for SP1.
"So don't wait -- go ahead and deploy...you know you want to!," LeBlanc added.
Microsoft has not yet announced a beta or release timeline for SP1 for Windows 7.
Businesses tend to be a bit more conservative when it comes to early adoption of new tech, but according to a new study, Windows 7 is gaining ground in the enterprise pretty fast.
The study pinged 923 businesses in January, and out of those, 16 percent have already deployed Windows 7 across the board. Another 42 percent said they will start migrating to Windows 7 by the end of the year. This is a much better reception than what Vista received during its first six months following its release.
"It is just very positive about Windows 7," said Dimensional Research analyst Diane Hagglund, the study's author. "They are planning to deploy it. They are planning to deploy it fast."
That doesn't mean businesses aren't being cautious, however. About 57 percent admitted to having some worries, but even this is a positive figure considering that's 10 percent less than from April 2009.
"IT is feeling much more confident that its secure, stable, and that it performs," Hagglund added. "It takes a little while for your applications to get caught up.
Microsoft announced today that hardware level virtualization will no longer be required to run XP Mode on Windows 7. The change is effective immediately, but those already running XP Mode don’t need to get new copies. Any users on Windows 7 Professional or higher can download and run the new code regardless of hardware support.
The news that XP Mode would need hardware virtualization was a bit dismaying to some. It was ofeten difficult to tell if a CPU had the correct features, and some surprisingly modern CPUs lacked them. The scale of the discontent led Microsoft to develop a way to run XP Mode without the BIOS level virtualization.
If you’re on a Windows 7 system without hardware virtualization, you can get your free copy of XP Mode for 32-bit or 64-bit.
What a difference an OS makes. Whereas those in charge of IT took a very cautious approach to Vista, Windows 7 is enjoying a much warmer reception and more rapid adoption rate.
"We have 50 percent of our users, that's 2,500 machines, deployed on Windows 7 in 2010," said Jim Thomas, CIO at Pella.
By the end of next year, Thomas says that number will likely rise to 90 percent. That's quite the contrast to Vista, in which some 80 percent of IT organizations shunned, according to Gartner.
There are big benefits to be had in moving to Windows 7, suggests Thomas, who says that upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7 has resulted in a 80 percent reduction in the number of system images he'll need.
"It has to do with drivers and Windows 7 being able to understand and adapt to them versus having a specific image built," Thomas explained.
IT execs are also drawn to Windows 7's faster boot times, though the redesigned task bar can go either way, depending on who you ask.
The HP Slate’s resemblance to Apple’s iPad looks to be no more than skin deep. Sure, the two devices do basically do the same thing, but Slate looks to offer a bit more potential, if the HP/Abode promotional videos are to believed, with Windows 7 and Flash support.
The tiff between Apple and Adobe raises some key concern about the quality of the Flash application. Sure, it drives a lot of content on the web, but at what cost to hardware? One, it appears, Apple doesn’t want to bear (and thus has hitched it’s wagon to HTML5). Adobe, understandably, doesn’t want to give up its content delivery hegemony on the Internet. Touting the amount of Flash content on the web, and demonstrating it can be used, and used without troublesome hardware consequences, is a good move to negate any bad public relations emerging from Apple’s very public stance.
Adobe may be stacking the deck in its presentation, however. According to Engadget, “Flash is said to be hardware-accelerated on the Slate, which suggests something other than a bone-stock Atom setup in there--we'd guess it's an Atom plus a Broadcom Crystal HD Accelerator”. How much of an impact this has is open to discussion, but it suggests that non-accelerated versions may move slower. Could Adobe’s approach later backfire, when users of other tablet devices don’t get this promised level of performance?
How well Apple’s Flash strategy plays out will be known shortly--if the iPad not just sells, but satisfies, then Apple made the right bet (for its customer base). We’ll have to wait and see later this year, when it is expected HP will release the Slate, whether Flash means all that much to consumers.
As it turns out, not only is Windows 7 a much better operating system than Windows Visa, it's also being much better received by early adopters than its predecessor was.
Web metrics firm NetApplications says Windows 7 accounts for 9 percent of all OSes in use online in February. That's twice as much as Vista claimed five months after it launched, which only saw a 4.5 percent share.
"Looking at the trends, the [Windows 7] growth rate seems to be strong and consistent with no visible decline," said Vince Vizzaccaro, executive vice president with NetApplications.
There's also been a difference in Windows 7's weekend and weekday scores, which Vizzaccaro says is indicative of "personal usage growing faster than corporate usage, which fits expectations."
Microsoft's Windows 7 Team sent out an email this morning reminding Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) users that the free ride is almost over.
"While most people who tested Windows 7 have now moved to the final version, some are still running the Release Candidate. If you haven't moved yet, it's time to replace the RC," the Windows 7 Team wrote.
In case you're fuzzy on the dates, here are the ones to remember:
The new Asus T101MT netbook tablet was spotted in an FCC filing back in December, but it’s now been made official. The systems comes with the familiar netbook internals including a 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450 processor, a 10.1-inch LED-backlit screen (with touchscreen capabilities), and 1-2GB of RAM depending on which version of Windows 7 the customer opts for. Consumers will also have a choice between a 160GB hard drive, or a 320GB hard drive with 500GB of Asus cloud storage free for a year.
Of course, the real trick here is the rotating screen that swivels around to put the computer into tablet mode. The system is not obscenely heavy at 2.9 lbs, and will offer a reported 6.5 hours of battery life. As an extra added bonus the SD card slot will be able to read the new SDXC cards up to 32GB in size. No specifics on price or availability were announced, but we’ll keep an eye out. Does this sort of form factor interest you at all?
Microsoft will soon make it more difficult for pirates to pillage Windows 7 when it closes a whole bunch of activation workarounds via an upcoming update. According to Microsoft, the Windows Activation Technologies Update for Windows 7 will close more than 70 "activation hacks.
Perhaps less appealing to the mainstream consumer, the update will also dial into a Microsoft server every once in awhile to help detect and root out any further hacks. Of course, this comes with the standard claim that no personally identifiable information about the user will ever be sent, but nevertheless, we can't see privacy advocates being too thrilled with this one.
Joe Williams, general manager of Microsoft's Genuine Windows unit, justifies the measures by calling attention to all the malware that's associated with non-genuine versions of Windows.
"We do see malicious code -- everything from easily discoverable malware to keyboard recording," Williams said. "There's all sorts of things we've seen that puts our customers at risk and their data at risk."
For those who want to get a jump start on the update, it will be made available as a manual download starting February 16th from Microsoft's genuine website, and the Microsoft Download center a day alter. Later on this month, it will be classified as an "important" yet optional update through Windows Update.
I want to buy a new CPU, one that will support new features like hardware virtualization. Before I move to Windows 7 from Windows XP, I wish to find out if its Windows XP Mode will work for my 32-bit programs under the 64-bit version of Windows 7. Has anyone even tested this?
Read the answer to Mitch's question after the jump.