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Posts Tagged ‘Windows Vista’

Windows 7 will come in many flavors

Posted by comtech3 on February 4, 2009

February 3, 2009 9:50 AM PST

Posted by Ina Fried

Despite criticism that Windows Vista came in too many versions, Microsoft is moving ahead with plans to offer just as many editions of Windows 7.

Although the software maker will offer at least six distinct versions of the new operating system, Microsoft said to expect almost all PCs sold in the U.S. to come with either the Home Premium or Professional editions of the operating system.

Veghte

(Credit: Microsoft)

“We’re going to focus on two versions,” Microsoft Senior Vice President Bill Veghte said in an interview, noting that those two versions will likely account for 80 percent of Windows 7 sales.

Still, versions of Windows 7 will include: Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate. Unlike with Vista, however, the Home Basic version will be sold only in emerging markets.

So, if Microsoft is going to focus on two, why bother with all of the other versions? Veghte says it comes down to the fact that there are just so many places in which Windows is sold.

For emerging markets, for example, Microsoft needs to have lower-priced versions. As a result, Microsoft plans the severely limited Windows 7 Starter as well as the bare bones, but relatively full-featured home basic version. Volume license customers will be able to get an enterprise version that includes BitLocker encryption and a couple of other enterprise-only features. For consumers who really want access to those features, there will again be an Ultimate version of the operating system.

That’s not to say Microsoft is doing everything the same with Windows 7. Veghte said that Microsoft learned some important lessons from Vista.

One specific criticism with the Vista packages was the fact that there were features in Home Premium that weren’t in the pricier Vista Business edition. With Windows 7, each higher-priced version will be a superset of the other versions. For example, the Professional version of Windows 7 includes Windows Media Center.

Also, Microsoft will make it easier to move from one version to another. With Vista, Microsoft introduced the notion of being able to easily upgrade from one version to another, though a special upgrade disk was needed. Windows 7, despite its many versions, will actually come as a single piece of code, or image. That means all the features will come loaded onto a Windows 7 PC, ready to be unlocked with an upgrade product key.

As for the specific versions, Windows 7 Starter has some of the key features of WIndows 7, such as the new taskbar, but not the live thumbnail previews. It is also limited to three applications running at a time and will have limitations on the kinds of screen resolutions and processors it will support.

Home Basic, which will be sold only in emerging markets, removes the screen size, processor, and open application limits and adds support for Internet connection sharing and the new sensor and location-based features. However, Home Basic lacks such things as multitouch support or the Aero interface. DVD playback and Windows Media Center are also found in the Home Premium and Professional editions, but not in Basic or Starter.

The ability to use presentation mode or join a domain are two examples of features that are found in Windows 7 Professional, but not in any of the home versions. Finally, you’ll need either Ultimate or Enterprise for a few features, such as DirectAccess, BitLocker, or booting from a virtual hard drive.

Regardless of the rationale, having so many versions of Windows 7–not to mention any additional versions mandated by antitrust regulators around the world–will certainly open Microsoft up to additional criticism and probably some mocking from the folks in Cupertino.

To some degree, the customization is necessary. After all, while Apple may boast of only having one version–it essentially targets only the high end of the consumer market–the segment served by Home Premium.

However, the need for an Ultimate version, particularly now that the Professional version will have Media Center and other consumer features, seems somewhat dubious.

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Belkin makes PC-to-Mac switch even easier

Posted by comtech3 on November 13, 2008

November 12, 2008 2:29 PM PST
Posted by Ina Fried

Belkin’s new $50 cable aims to make the PC-to-Mac move even easier.

(Credit: Belkin)

Back in 2006, Microsoft was only too happy to tout a cable from Belkin that made it easier to move from XP to Vista. It even gave away the devices as part of its CES press kits.

However, a new twist on that cable is likely to get a far chillier reception in Redmond.

While Belkin’s original USB cable–the Easy Transfer Cable–was aimed at moving from XP to Vista, its latest product is aimed at those moving to a Mac.

The $50 Switch-to-Mac cable “automatically moves your music, movies, photos, files, and Internet preferences” from a Windows machine over to a shiny new Mac. It works with either XP or Vista on the PC side and either Tiger or Leopard on the Mac as far as Macs go.

There’s obviously other ways to move files and make the switch, but if this cable works as smoothly as the XP-to-Vista one did, it’s likely to make life easier for switchers.

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InfoWorld says Windows 7’s not that fast

Posted by comtech3 on November 12, 2008

November 11, 2008 4:27 PM PST

Posted by Ina Fried

While many of those who have played around with the early version of Windows 7 have noted that it feels pretty zippy, especially for a pre-beta version, InfoWorld says early benchmarks show the software is just on par with its predecessor.

In an article on Monday, InfoWorld said that Windows 7 is a “virtual twin” of Vista when it comes to performance.

On the one hand, this could be seen as bad news, considering Microsoft’s efforts to position Windows 7 as better performing. At the same time, this is a pre-beta version. Early releases often lag in performance since optimizations tend to be among the later steps in operating system development.

For its part, Microsoft is encouraging folks to withhold judgment.

“Microsoft consistently encourages people to hold benchmark tests until software is finished and ready for broad release,” Microsoft said in a statement to CNET News.

I’ve been using Windows 7 for a couple of weeks on a loaner machine from Microsoft (a Lenovo X300). It does feel considerably faster than my work machine, but that’s a several-year-old IBM ThinkPad T42. And, as a colleague points out, a new Windows image often feels fast, until you load all of your usual add-ons and third-party software on top of it.

I will say, the new Windows has been incredibly stable for an early build. I used it a bunch at PDC and WinHEC and am currently using it as my main machine. Most things I have tried are working, including the software I use every day, such as iTunes and several IM programs.

On the not-so-hot list, I haven’t gotten it to work with my Sprint wireless broadband card. I also haven’t been able to connect to CNET’s VPN, meaning I’ve been using Outlook Web Access as opposed to the real thing. But to me, the testament to Windows 7 is that I still want to use it, even though Outlook Web Access is way less convenient than Outlook itself.

I’ll be interested to see if Microsoft continues in the right direction with its broad beta, which is slated to be released early next year, as well as whether it hits its internal goal of shipping Windows 7 in time for next year’s holiday shopping season.

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Windows 7: A better Vista?

Posted by comtech3 on October 29, 2008

October 28, 2008 9:00 AM PDT

Posted by Ina Fried

LOS ANGELES–Microsoft on Tuesday offered up far more details on Windows 7, successor to the company’s oft-maligned Windows Vista.

In particular, Microsoft is focused on improving the time it takes for Windows to start up and shut down. In addition to its own work, Microsoft has been working directly with computer makers to address all of the factors that affect system performance.

Click for gallery

As far as other features, Windows 7 features support for multitouch input and a new taskbar that makes it easier to manage multiple open Windows.

“The focus is on making sure the things you do (today) are easier and that the things you always wanted to do are possible,” Corporate Vice President Mike Nash said in an interview Monday. “There’s a lot of work we’ve done to just make things easier and faster.

The early, prebeta version being handed out to developers at the Professional Developer Conference here has all of the programming interfaces that will be in the final version but only some of the planned features.

Several enthusiasts who have been checking out the new code for the past couple of days praised the stability of the release, particularly for an operating system, at this early stage.

With Windows 7, Microsoft has changed the way it approaches building early releases. In the past, Microsoft included features at various stages of development. With Windows 7, features are included in the main Windows build, only after they are fully baked.

Microsoft is clearly looking to leave a far different first impression than it did with Windows Vista, which made major changes under the hood and led to considerable incompatibilities. With Windows 7, Microsoft is not introducing any major changes to the Windows kernel and is keeping much of the other plumbing substantially similar to that of Vista.

The software maker has also tried to reduce some of Vista’s other annoyances, such as the frequently criticized User Account Control feature, which some complained led to too many annoying dialog boxes. With Windows 7, users will be able to choose for themselves how often the system warns them of changes being made to their computer.

The next external release of Windows 7, a feature-complete public beta, is slated for early next year.

Nash wouldn’t say whether the company plans more than one beta version before its final release. “We’ll see how the first one goes,” he said.

The company has said it will have the release out within three years of Vista’s January 2007 mainstream release, however, CEO Steve Ballmer has said he wants Windows 7 out next year.

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