PDC 2008: Microsoft Unveils Prettier, Faster, Less Annoying Windows 7

During a day two keynote at its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) 2008 in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning, Microsoft unveiled Windows 7, the successor to the best-selling but curiously reviled Windows Vista. Vowing to overcome criticisms of Vista, Microsoft promised that Windows 7--due sometime in late 2009 or early 2010--would be prettier, faster, and less annoying than its predecessor.

"With our new approach to planning and development we now have a great foundation for our partners to start learning and innovating on this exciting new version of Windows," Microsoft senior vice president Steven Sinofsky said. "We are excited to be delivering a pre-beta developer release of Windows 7 today at PDC2008."

Looking not a little bit like Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Sinofsky provided the first major public unveiling of Windows 7 in a presentation that wowed a crowd eager for some excitement. Applause came early and often, and it was clear that show-goers were impressed again and again and Sinofsky rolled out new features.

From a high level, Windows 7 is very similar to Windows Vista. But virtually every nook and cranny of the system has been tweaked and polished in some way, resulting in a better overall experience. Windows 7 will boot and run faster than Vista, take up less space on disk, perform better, and will be more customizable. Sinofksy said that it would even run wonderfully on the low-end netbook computers that are now shpping with Windows XP: His day to day machine features a measly 1 GHz Atom processor and just 1 GB of RAM, he said to applause.

For consumers, Vista offers a slew of new desktop capabilities, simple sharing and home networking functionality, an enhanced media player than can remotely control devices around the home and a new version of the Media Center digital video recorder software. The user account control feature--the source of much anger by Vista users--has been scaled back dramatically and rarely prompts the user anymore. And multitouch features are imbued deeply into the system, letting people with next-generation hardware interact with the system in new ways.

"With Windows Vista, there is a feeling that we overpromised and underdelivered," Sinofsky told me in a briefing Sunday. "But we can't under-promise and over-deliver with Windows 7. That would be just as bad. We're going to promise. And then we're going to deliver."

From what we saw this week, that's exactly what Microsoft is doing. And after the debacle of Windows Vista, it's exactly what the company's customers are looking for.

I've been using Windows 7 for a few days now, and I've written a number of articles--and have posted numerous screenshots--on the SuperSite for Windows.

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