The Windows 7 juggernaut has little regard for impediments, but it does have a soft spot for an elderly cognate that refuses to die: Windows XP. Microsoft marked the availability of the public beta for Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) by extending the end-user downgrade rights to Windows XP until 2020, even though the previous deadline for their expiry was set at Windows 7 SP1.
End-user downgrade rights let businesses use a prior version of Windows on new machines until they are ready to transition to the latest version. Only OEM copies of Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate include downgrade rights to Windows XP or Windows Vista Professional. According to Microsoft, the move is meant to “provide customers and partners with more predictability around the lifecycle of Windows.”
Apparently, its business customers feared that removing end-user rights could lead to confusion. “Going forward, businesses can continue to purchase new PCs and utilize end user downgrade rights to Windows XP or Windows Vista until they are ready to use Windows 7. Enabling such rights throughout the Windows 7 lifecycle will make it easier for customers as they plan deployments to Windows 7,” Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc wrote in a blog post yesterday.
Microsoft announced Monday that Windows 7 Service Pack 1 is available in public beta form. While desktop Windows 7 is looking mainly like a rollup of hotfixes, the update for Server 2008 R2 is more substantive. Server will be getting the new RemoteFX feature which will provide higher quality 3D accelerated graphics for remote users. Server 2008 R2 is also seeing dynamic memory support added.
A copy of SP1 leaked online back and April and is rumored to have USB 3.0 support and an updated Bluetooth/Wi-Fi stack. None of this has been confirmed yet, but the update isn't final yet. To try the new service pack, you have to pretend to be either a developer, or an IT professional. You'll also need a final copy of Windows 7 or Server 2008 R2. Download it here. Let us know if you give it a shot.
After Microsoft scrapped plans to release its dual-screen Courier and HP pulled the plug on its much hyped Windows 7-based Slate (you know, before the company went out and gobbled up Palm, putting them in a webOS state of mind), we wondered if we'd ever see Redmond's latest OS make a run at the tablet market. Wonder no more, says Steve Ballmer, who told 14,000 partners during his July 12 keynote at the Worldwide Partner Conference that Windows 7 slates are forthcoming.
Not only are Windows 7 slates coming, says Ballmer, but in a big way. As the outspoken CEO tells it, Microsoft and several of its PC partners have plans to release Windows 7-based tablets in the coming months, including ones from Asus, Dell, Samsung, Toshiba, and Sony.
These will ship in varying form factors, everything from ones with physical keyboards to touch only, from dockable tablets to slates with digital ink, and more, Ballmer says.
When exactly these slates will come to market is anyone's guess, but if everyone makes good on their plans, 2011 might go down as the year of the tablet. Everyone and their uncle has been promising to release a tablet at some point or another, with many aiming for late 2010.
I am using Windows 7 Home Premium and I have found that there is no longer an AutoRun option that permits the automatic startup of USB flash drives that contain software. I am particularly referring to flash drives that contain portable operating systems such as Portable Apps or SanDisk U3 Launchpad. The user is now presented with a prompt that permits viewing the files and double-clicking the application to be executed.
Is there a registry hack that I can use to restore the AutoRun feature for USB flash drives that contain applications?
Windows 7 did a lot of things. It atoned for Vista, stopped what could have been a mass exodus to Linux, corralled performance and security into a single OS, and atoned for Vista (worthy of a second mention). But the biggest stamp Windows 7 might leave on the computing landscape is bringing 64-bit code to the forefront.
According to the latest figures from Microsoft, 46 percent of Windows 7 users are rolling with the 64-bit version of the OS. That's nearly half of all users, compared to just 11 percent for Vista, or one in ten.
For the most part, this is new territory for Windows users, unlike in the Linux community, which has been much more adopting of 64-bit code. But it's the Windows platform that drives most consumer products, and the widespread acceptance of 64-bit code could provide the kick in the pants developers need to switch their focus from 32-bit software.
Microsoft hasn't said anything official as of yet, but it looks like the company is planning to release a version of the Arc mouse with multitouch input. The evidence is extensive and fairly convincing. First, Microsoft has registered the domain "arctouchmouse.com", which currently redirects to Bing. Several European retailers have started listing a "Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse" on their sites. The Redmond mostly software company was also known to be working on multitouch mouse concepts in their research division in 2009.
If this product does exist, what can we expect from it? Windows 7 does have multitouch functionality built right in, but most consumers don't have the hardware to take advantage of it. Even if the Arc Touch is just a PC clone of the Apple Magic Mouse, it will allow PC users a new set of experiences without buying an expensive multitouch PC.
The listings we mentioned earlier are showing the Arc Mouse as selling for about $70. Assuming that is a PC Magic Mouse, would you take a chance at that price point?
Microsoft's follow up the highly successful Windows 7 is already under development, and the first solid details have been disclosed to hardware partners. The leak comes in the form of some PowerPoint slides apparently provided to several manufacturers. The aptly named Windows 8 is said to focus on a number of issues that have been called out by reviewers and users alike.
Windows 8 is going to see a streamlined, faster start up and improved Hibernate support. There will be facial recognition login baked into the OS. Of course, Internet Explorer 9 will come preinstalled. One thing that we find really interesting is a so-called "Push-Button Reset" that would basically reinstall Windows without touching your files, applications, or settings. If true, it could be a giant leap forward in assuring system stability, but it sounds too much like magic to us.
On last thing that the leaked slides point to is a feature we're a little confused about. There will apparently be a Windows App Store in the new OS. It's unclear what that means. Will it just be a place to showcase high quality Windows applications, or a special repository that developers will submit apps to? Do any of these supposed features give you the warm fuzzies?
After revealing tantalizing details of its new release of Windows Live Essentials for Windows 7 (and Vista) earlier this month, Microsoft took the wraps off the public beta today.
Windows Live Essentials is a free collection of web-enabled programs for blogging (Writer), photo editing and management (Photo Gallery), video editing (Movie Maker), instant messaging (Messenger), email client (Mail), parental controls (Family Safety), and a new component for file synchronization and remote access (Sync). In this new version, originally known as Windows Live Essentials Wave 4, Windows Live Essentials loses Windows XP compatibility, but gains new features and better usability. For more screen shots and information, join us after the jump.
Pause for a moment and count to 10. All finished? Assuming you counted in accurate 1-second increments, Microsoft sold 70 more copies of Windows 7 by the time you finished. All tallied, the software juggernaut from Redmond has sold over 150 million license of Windows 7 to date, making it the fastest selling OS in history with 7 copies sold every second, Windows Communications Manager Brandon LeBlanc wrote in a blog post.
"Approximately 75 percent of enterprises are looking at Windows 7 for their organization, and of course people continue to be excited about the features and benefits of Windows 7, and the PCs that our partners are delivering for Windows 7," LeBlanc added.
Back in March, Microsoft said it sold 90 million copies of Windows 7 before updating that number to 100 on April 23, just two months ago. At the current pace, Microsoft is unloading more than 25 million copies of its flagship consumer OS every month and is on track to sell 300 million Windows 7 licenses by the end of 2010.
Forgive us for being a bit cynical about this one, but it’s kind of hard not to be. After demonstrating a commitment to the PC platform about assolid as that of a friend who’s only hanging around with you because he wants to “get acquainted with” your attractive sister, we’re having some trouble accepting Microsoft’s latest “Hey, wanna hang out?” at face value. In an internal Q&A document leaked by Kotaku, Microsoft was asked about Fable 3 and whether or not the formerly Xbox-exclusive fantasy jaunt signaled “a larger reinvestment by Microsoft in PC gaming.”
“In terms of revenue, Windows is far and away the largest gaming platform in the world, so it's an incredibly important part of Microsoft's business. From core games like Fable III to casual, social and Facebook titles, more gaming happens on Windows than anywhere else,” the software giant said in response.
“Windows 7 is a world-class gaming platform, and you can bet Microsoft has a vested interest in using it as a platform for amazing first party content. Fable III on Windows as well as Xbox 360 this holiday is a great first step, and we'll have more news for you later this summer.”
Our best guess? After backing off because it got burned, Microsoft’s testing the PC gaming waters yet again -- and Fable III’s the thermometer, basically. Obviously, the PC’s way too big for Microsoft to continue to neglect, and with its recent Kinection to casual gaming, you can bet those “casual, social, and Facebook titles” are a major area of interest for the sadly console-centric behemoth. The long and short of it? Thar’s gold in them thar hills, and Microsoft wants a few nuggets for itself. Here’s hoping us not-so-casual gamers continue to benefit from the gold rush as well.