Is it time to put a shiny new Windows 7-based computer on your holiday shopping list? Yes, it is. Redmond has finally made it official - Windows 7 is coming out this year. In an interview with Cnet's Ina Fried, Microsoft Senior VP Bill Veghte confirmed that "We [Microsoft] are tracking well to a Windows 7 holiday."
So, what makes it possible to roll out Windows 7 early? Veghte points to a couple of factors:
Excellent early feedback from Windows 7 RC
Higher level of partner support for Windows 7, notably from graphics chip vendors as well as those already receiving Windows 7 logo certification
To learn more, keep an eye on the Microsoft Tech-Ed 2009 conference opening today in Los Angeles. If you're using Windows 7 RC as your primary OS, how close do you think it is to being "ready to roll?" Join us after the jump and tell us.
The May 5th launch date for the Windows 7 RC has come and gone, and amazingly, it went off without a hitch. The download servers held up, product keys have been free flowing, and Microsoft is once again proving to the world that they have what it takes to be the number one OS. To veteran Maximum PC readers, downloading and installing the new Windows 7 RC is a piece of cake, and they have probably been up and running for days. For newcomers however, the process can be a bit overwhelming. In the following guide, we will review the steps from start to finish on how to get the Windows 7 Release Candidate up and running in less than an hour. The entire process is free, and the only risk involved is your time, and the possibility of developing an unnatural love affair with an operating system that you’re wife probably won’t understand.
Hit the jump to learn how to setup a dual boot with your old OS, upgrade from Vista, or even just make a plain old clean install.
One of the best-kept secrets about Windows 7, its support for a Virtual Windows XP mode, has become a potential headache for a lot of computer users who want to keep running fussy legacy apps under Windows 7. To maintain high system performance, Virtual Windows XP Mode requires the processor to support hardware virtualization (and the system BIOS must enable the feature).
As ZDNet's Ed Bott reports, trying to figure out which Intel processors have hardware virtualization (known in IntelLand as VT support) requires a lot of time with the Intel Hardware Spec Finder. Ed spent the time, so you don't have to wonder about Intel desktop or mobile CPUs (but check the update on page 1 for news about some CPUs that are getting updated to add VT support).
What about AMD CPUs? That's a bit easier to figure out, thanks to a statement from an AMD spokesperson quoted by Cnet:
All CPUs AMD is currently shipping, except Sempron, include AMD-V and therefore support XP mode.With the exceptions of Sempron-branded processors and Turion K8 Rev E processors, all notebook processors shipped by AMD include AMD-V and therefore support Windows 7 XP mode. With the exceptions of Sempron-branded processors and pre-Rev F Athlon branded processors, all of the desktop processors shipped by AMD include AMD-V and therefore support Windows 7 in XP mode. Also, all AMD Opteron processors shipped by AMD from Rev F forward include AMD-V.
Want an even easier way to get the virtualization scoop on your systems? PCWorld recommends the SecureAble test page at the Gibson Research Corporation website. Run SecurAble to determine if your processor supports hardware virtualization, hardware data execution protection (DEP) and to learn if it's a 32-bit or 64-bit CPU. Give SecurAble a try and let us know if you found any surprises about your system.
Microsoft's latest Windows version, Windows 7, has already proven to be too popular for the Internet's own good. Back in January, Microsoft planned to offer the Windows 7 beta to only 2.5 million lucky downloaders over a two-week period, but that didn't last long. As servers crashed under the weight of digital "gold rush" fever, Redmond extended the date to February 10th while lifting the download cap.
This time, with early demand for Windows 7 RC from TechNet and MSDN members crashing servers at the end of April, Microsoft is telling the public to relax:
You don't need to rush to get the RC. The RC will be available at least through July 2009 and we're not limiting the number of product keys, so you have plenty of time.
Wondering how to get more product keys the easy way? Having problems restoring a file backup you made with Windows 7 Beta to Windows 7 RC? Join us after the jump.
Asus this week announced new beta drivers for several of its motherboards that "enable Asus motherboard users to run Windows 7 RC." By doing so, Asus claims its mobos are the world's first to support the newly released operating system.
"Asus' industry-leading Research & Development team has kept close pace with each new beta release of Windows 7, and has developed beta drivers that enable Asus motherboard users to try Windows 7 RC immediately," Asus wrote in a press release. "The drivers can be downloaded from the Asus Motherboard Support website (http://support.asus.com/)."
Asus notes the following models are now officially supported:
P6T Deluxe V2
P5Q PRO Turbo
P5Q SE PLUS
Updated drivers for the full range of P6T, P5Q, and M4 series boards will be coming soon, Asus says.
Should you be worried about the July 1, 2010 "drop dead" date for the Windows 7 RC released today? Not according to Acer. In an interview with Pocket-Lint's Chris Hall, Bobby Watkins, Acer UK's Marketing Director, says that October 23, 2009 will be the day that Windows 7 will be available.
Believable? One comment from a US-based reader points out that October 23
...comes at the end of the major U.S. back-to-school selling season and could postpone buying by thousands of people in order to get into the 30-day free upgrade cycle [Acer says that purchases 30 days or less before the Windows 7 release qualify for a free upgrade]. The Microsoft OEM's will absolutely hate this date because it will cost them money.
On the other hand, the date falls comfortably before the holiday season (Microsoft missed the 2006 holiday season with Windows Vista).
For your chance to sound off about how close Windows 7 RC is to being ready to roll, join us after the jump.
Today is Tuesday, May 5th, and that means you can now officially download Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC). Microsoft had previously made the RC available to Technet and MSDN subscribers, and it didn't take long for the newest release to find its way onto Torrent sites.
Microsoft says the RC will expire on June 1, 2010, and starting on March 1, 2010, your PC will begin shutting down every two hours. You'll be given a two-week reminder ahead of time.
The RC that's being made available is a full-featured edition, similar to Windows Vista Ultimate, Microsoft says. Those of you running the Windows 7 Beta can continue to do so until August 1, 2009, at which time you'll need to a clean install of the RC - an upgrade option is not available.
Windows 7 RC will be available at least through July 2009, and while that means there's no rush to go grab your copy right now, there have been no reports of a 'Server is too busy' error message like there were with the Beta release.
Everyone seems excited about the upcoming launch of Windows 7, and with good reason. By many accounts -- speed being the primary one -- Windows 7 is what Vista should have been all along. So where, then, does that leave Vista once Windows 7 starts shipping?
"We are still not sure if [computer makers] will be able to ship Vista once Windows 7 is made available," said Richard Francis, general manager and Windows client business group lead at Microsoft Asia-Pacific. "Having said that, an enterprise customer that purchases a PC with Windows 7 pre-installed is allowed to downgrade to Vista should they desire, similar to what we have today on Vista to XP."
Francis went on to reiterate that Microsoft will stop support forVista in April 2012. And it's probably a safe bet that Vista won't see anywhere near the same user outcry that XP saw, which helped the OS avoid a stay of execution more than once. After stumbling out of the gates with performance hampering bugs, most are looking forward to moving on.
"It's been a long time since we've had a version of Windows that will actually run better [than a previous version] on the hardware that most customers have," Mike Nash, corporate vice president of the Windows product management group at Microsoft, told reporters during a conference call.
Windows 7 recently went into Release Candidate (RC) form and will be available to the general public for download tomorrow, May 5th.
AutoRun and AutoPlay, Microsoft's "dangerous duo" for launching programs from CD/DVD and other removable media types, have become among malware authors' favorite infection vectors - and Microsoft has finally said, "enough already!"
A research study by Forefront Client Securitycited by the Engineering Windows 7 blog determined that infections that can be started with AutoRun amounted to 17.7% of detected infections in the second half of 2008.
Although AutoRun was originally designed strictly for optical media, it can be used for other types of media. For example, you can create an autorun.inf file that adds the program on the media to the AutoPlay menu Windows displays, and change the default icon to make the malware program mimic a legitimate program. Conficker used this method to spread, as illustrated here.
Starting in Windows 7 RC, Microsoft has changed how both AutoRun and AutoPlay work:
AutoPlay no longer supports AutoRun on non-optical removable media. An autorun.inf file on a USB or other type of non-optical removable media will be disregarded. Only AutoPlay options that pertain to the types of files on the media will be listed.
When AutoPlay displays programs present on the media, the dialog now states that those programs will be run from the media.
To learn more about these changes, and to find out what other Microsoft operating systems will eventually get similar protection, join us after the jump.
Starting yesterday, MSDN and TechNet subscribers have been able to download the Release Candidate (RC) for Windows 7, Microsoft's upcoming operating system. This latest version represents the final phases of development and is geared towards giving hardware and software partners a headstart in coding device drivers and services.
"Listening to our partners and customers has been fundamental to the development of Windows 7," said Bill Veghte, senior VP for the Windows business at Microsoft. "We heard them and worked hard to deliver the highest quality Release Candidate in the history of Windows. We have more partner support than we've ever had for an RC and are pleased to say that the Windows 7 RC has hit the quality and compatibility bar for enterprises to start putting it through its paces and testing in earnest."
That should come as good news to everyone who plans on upgrading once Windows 7 starts shipping. By contrast, Vista's release was the polar opposite to what Microsoft is claiming we can expect out of Windows 7. Driver issues, particularly with Nvidia hardware, plagued Vista's release, as did several performance hampering bugs.
If you're not an MSDN or TechNet subscriber, you still won't have to wait long to get your hands on the RC. Microsoft says it will make Windows 7 RC available to the general public on May 5, which is next Tuesday.