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.
Microsoft plans to release the public beta of Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 by the end of next month. But it has already begun sending email invites to potential testers to join the technical beta, which is set to begin by end of June. Invites are being sent “based on the quality of feedback you have provided on previous Windows programs.” According to tech site Neowin, the email confirms that the beta will be available in English, German, Japanese, French and Spanish.
If you prefer your netbooks in the Windows XP flavor, you might want to plan ahead and buy a six pack. Starting this coming October, Microsoft will no longer allow manufacturers to install XP on netbooks. Microsoft has previously alerted OEMs to this, but took the opportunity this week to remind everyone.
Microsoft went out of its way to optimize Windows 7 for netbooks, and most users seem to be fine with the newer OS. The number of Windows 7 netbooks has been increasing steadily, while XP machines are declining, Though, there are still a number of XP netbooks being sold.
OEMs are rumored to be paying about $50 per Windows 7 license, as opposed to a mere $15 for XP. We can see why they'd want to continue offering XP on some machines, given the famously low profit margins on netbooks. Do you still want XP on your netbooks?
Come late July, Microsoft will release the first Service Pack for Windows 7, the Redmond outfit announced in a blog post on Monday. However, don't expect any major performance enhancements, as was the case when the first Service Pack for Vista significantly improved the overall OS experience.
"While the new features for Windows Server 2008 R2 benefit Windows 7 by providing a richer VDI experience, SP1 will not contain any new features that are specific to Windows 7 itself," Microsoft wrote. "For Windows 7, SP1 will simply be the combination of updates already available through Windows Update and additional hotfixes based on feedback by our customers and partners. In other words, customers can feel confident about deploying Windows 7 now!"
Microsoft said that it has already sold over 100 million license of Windows 7, which is in line with most analysts' figures. And following SP1, Microsoft will likely see a spike in sales, as some businesses often wait for the first Service Pack to debut before migrating to a new OS.
While Microsoft's dominance in desktop computing is indubitable, its software has found few takers in the increasingly lucrative mobile and embedded device market. Just as it is planning to turn over a new leaf with its all new Windows Phone 7 operating system, it needs an embedded operating system that can wipe out whatever little recollection people might have of its Windows Embedded CE operating system.
Microsoft does have a successor to Windows CE, and it is called Windows Embedded Compact 7. The Redmond-based company is showcasing many tablets and slates running its latest embedded OS at Computex 2010 in Taipei. It has also released the public community technology preview (CTP) for Windows Embedded Compact 7, which is available online as a trial download.
Many companies are showcasing their upcoming tablets at Computex 2010. The event has shown that tablet makers are not adverse to their tablets or slates running a full featured version of Windows 7, with the recently announced MSI WindPad and ASUS Eee Pad being the most prominent examples. However, Windows 7 is only compatible with x86-based tablets and tablet makers have no choice but to opt for some other operating system – in most cases Android - for such devices.
On the other hand, Windows Embedded Compact 7 can also run on ARM-based devices. So a stellar embedded OS will only enhance Microsoft's chances of success in the tablet market.