Everything You Need to Know About Windows 7
Microsoft is going to release the latest version of Microsoft Windows on 22nd Oct. 2009 and the version is Windows 7, which was earlier codenamed as Blackcomb and Vienna. This is in the line of a series of operating systems created by Microsoft in order to be used in personal computers, laptops, business desktops, netbooks, tablet PCs and media center PCs. The release date of Windows 7 lies within the period of three years since the availability of the predecessor version of the operating system, i.e. Windows Vista. Windows Server 2008 R2, the server counterpart of windows Vista is also going to be released on the same date.
Unlike Windows Vista, Windows 7 has been designed in a way to be compatible with all the hardware and applications that also work very well under Widows Vista, so it can be said that Windows Vista is an incremental upgrade in the line of Windows operating systems. In 2008, Microsoft company, in one of its presentations, put forward some of the features of Windows 7 that included the home networking system HomeGroup, Windows Shell wit
h a new taskbar, multi touch support and many other performance improvements. There are some features, which were present in earlier versions of Windows operating system, that are not going to be included In Windows 7. The features are: Windows Mail, Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Calendar and Windows Movie Maker. But some of them are going to be available as the parts of freeware Windows Live Essentials suite.
How it has developed
Previously, it was decided that Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 would be succeeded by a newer version of Windows codenamed as Blackcomb. There were several major features that were going to be included in Blackcomb like, a more advanced searching and querying data feature and a more advanced storage system called WinFS. But the release of Blackcomb was postponed in the face of an announcement of the interim release of a different version, codenamed Longhorn, which was not as much an elaborate version as the Blackcomb would have been. However, by the mid 2003, Longhorn was given some of the features that were originally planned for Blackcomb. But all of this planning had to be put on a backburner by Microsoft, as three major viruses took the advantage of several weak points in Windows operating systems in the same year of 2003 and made the Company to divert its attention in creating some new service packs for Windows XP & Windows Server 2003. Again, in Sep. 2004, the development of Longhorn (Windows Vista) was put on hold and several features were removed from Longhorn.
The name Blackcomb was changed into Vienna, in early 2006, which again saw a change from Vienna to Windows 7 in the year 2007 and this last name was announced as the official name of the newer version of the Windows operating system. In Jan. 2008, the first external release to select the partners of Microsoft came in with Milestone 1, build 6519. Microsoft showed the redesigned taskbar of Windows 7 in 2008 at PDC. Microsoft made an arrangement to distribute several copies of Windows 7 build 6801 with the disabled taskbar at the end of the conference.
Windows 7 Beta got leaked on the net through BitTorrent on 27th Dec. 2008 and this gave an opportunity to all those who wanted to have a taste of Windows 7. ZDNet conducted a performance test and found Windows 7 Beta to be excelling the Windows XP and Windows Vista in several key features like, reducing the time taken in booting and shut-down, loading of documents, working with different files and many other. But the PC Pro benchmarks for the typical activities of Microsoft office and the video-editing was completely identical to that of Windows Vista and slower than that of Windows XP. Again in Jan. 7, 2009, another leak of 64-bit version of Windows 7 Beta, build 7000, took place on the net in which some of the torrents were infected with a Trojan malware. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made it public at CES 2009 that Windows 7 Beta, build 7000, can now be downloaded from MSDN and TechNet by subscribing to them and the format in which Widows 7 Beta, build 2009, was available there was an ISO image. But, it was going to be released publicly only on 9th Jan. 2009.Although. Microsoft Company had planned it to make the download available on 9th Jan. 2009 to 2.5 million people worldwide, but it could not be materialized because of the high traffic. The limit of download was extended twice, once up to Jan. 24, 2009 and then up to Feb. 10, 2009. This extension has made it an easy task to download Windows 7 Beta, as now the people were given a chance to resume the download of Windows 7 Beta any time within 2 days of initializing the download. And, once the deadline finished, no unfinished download was allowed to be completed after Feb. 12, 2009. But, the users are still able to obtain the product keys from the Microsoft Company in order to activate their own copy of Windows 7 Beta or the users can also download Windows 7 with the help of the Microsoft connect program.
The expiration date of Windows 7 Beta is 1st Aug., 2009 with the bi-hourly shutdowns starting from 1st July, 2009. The subscribers of MSDN and TechNet and the participants of Connect program have been offered to download the release candidate, build 7100 since 30th April, 2009. It is also available to the general mass from 5th May, 2009 in addition with its leaked version on the net via BitTorrent. The number of languages in which it is available to be downloaded is five and it is going to be expired on 1st June, 2010 with the bi-hourly shutdowns beginning from 1st March, 2010. Microsoft announced on 2nd June, 2009 that Windows 7 will officially be released on 22nd October, 2009 that is tallying with the time of holiday shopping season. It has also been confirmed that Windows 7 is going to be released along with the release of Windows Server 2008 R2.
Objectives of Its Release
In an Interview with the Newsweek, Bill Gates has indicated that the latest version of Windows operating system would prove to be more users friendly as well as it will include better performance capabilities. Elaborating these words of Bill gates in the blogs of Engineering Windows 7, Mr. Steven Sinofsky said that Microsoft is utilizing several newer tracing tools in order to constantly and correctly track the performance of Windows operating systems from several different aspects that will help in identifying and eliminating any unworthy code paths as well as prevent the occurrence of any performance regression.
The Senior Vice President of the Microsoft Company Mr. Bill Veghte said that the users going to replace Windows Vista with Windows 7 will not come across with any compatibility hitches, as witnessed in case of switching over from Windows XP to Windows Vista. CEO of the Microsoft Company, Mr. Steve Ballmer on 16th October, 2009, while discussing over Windows 7, confirmed that there will be no compatibility issue while switching over from Windows 7 to Windows Vista and that windows 7 is a modified version of Windows Vista.
New and changed features
There are several new features that have been included in the latest version of Windows operating system, Windows 7. Some of them are: advancement in the handwriting recognition & touch buttons, improved boot performance, improved performance of multi-core processors, improved kernel performance, a specific gadget for Windows Media Center, Windows PowerShell, Improved media features, added support for the systems having multiple heterogeneous graphic cards of different vendors (heterogeneous Multi-Adapter), XPS Essential Pack and many others. It also includes a redesigned calculator that supports multi-line capabilities like, Programmer and Statistics Modes in addition to unit conversion.
Control Panel is also awarded with several new items like, Troubleshooting, Biometric Devices, Clear Type Text Tuner, Location and Other Sensors, Display Color Calibration Wizard, System Icons, Workspaces Center, Recovery, Credential Manager, Gadgets and Display. The name of Windows Security Center has also been changed to Windows Action Center, which was named as Windows Solution Center & Windows Health Center in the earlier versions of the Windows operating systems. Windows Action Center is responsible for the security of the system and is also responsible for the upkeep of the system.
The most significant visual change appeared in the taskbar, where pinning applications to taskbar replaced Quick Launch Toolbar. The buttons for the pinned applications got integrated along with the taskbar buttons. With the help of these buttons even the Jump Lists feature got the ability to allow the access to more common tasks very easily. Now the user can also reorder the taskbar buttons according to their choice, thanks to redesigning of the taskbar. Another interesting feature, included in windows 7, is Aero Peek that in turn includes a Show Desktop icon placed at the far right to the clock of the system and is rectangular in shape. Putting the mouse on this icon lets all the windows visible to the user in a transparent view, so that the viewer could easily have a quick look at the desktop. It has some different properties to show in the case of displays that are touch-enabled like, touch screens and tablets PCs. The difference is that the Show Desktop button is a little bit wider for touch screens, so that it could be easily pressed with the finger. Once it is clicked, all the windows get minimized and in the next turn of pressing it, all windows get restored.
Then there is another somewhat similar feature named Aero Snap, which renders a window maximized if dragged to the top or to the left or right edges of screen. With the help of this feature users can compare two documents with each other by displaying both of them at the same time. A maximized window on moving gets restored to its previous state without any additional effort on the part of the user. All these functions can also be operated with the help of the keyboard shortcuts. After maximizing a window, the border and the taskbar doesn’t get opaque, as seen in Windows Vista, instead they remain transparent if the window is maximized through Windows Aero.
Windows 7 has also several new features for the developers like, a newer networking API having the support to build the web services in native code that are based on SOAP (instead of WCF web services based on .NET), novel features to reduce the time taken in the installations, reduced UAC prompts, a more simplified installation packages development, newer Extended Linguistic Services API for supporting the improvement in globalization. Microsoft Company also made it clear that Windows 7 will very easily support the 30-bit and the 40-bit color depths as well as the scRGB with wide color gamut (which will be accomplished by converting the HDMI 1.3 into an output of the form xvYCC). Solid State Drives will now be supported better by the Microsoft with the help of identification of a Solid State Drive uniquely by Windows 7.
Windows 7 will again host some of the games that were removed from the list of Windows Vista like, Internet backgammon, Internet Spades and Internet Checkers. Windows 7 will also include the latest versions of Windows Media Player (Windows Media Player 12) and Internet Explorer (Internet Explorer 8).
Microsoft has also provided to its users of Windows 7, the ability to disable several additional components of Windows besides the ones which can also be disabled in the previous versions of Windows operating system. Some of the buttons include: Windows Media Player, Windows Gadget Platform, Windows Media Center, Internet Explorer 8 and Windows Search. There are 13 newer options for the sound included in windows 7, which are: Calligraphy, Garden, Raga, Savanna, Characters, Afternoon, Cityscape, Sonata, Heritage, Quirky, Festival, Landscape and Delta. The new version of Virtual PC, called Windows Virtual PC Beta is now available only for Windows 7 Enterprise, Professional and Ultimate editions. Its work is to make the system capable of running multiple Windows environments with the help of Intel VT-x or AMD-V.
The function of Windows XP mode is to run the applications in Windows XP environment and then display them on to the Windows 7 desktop. A virtual hard disk (VHD) can be mounted as the storage for data in Windows 7 and a bootloader under Windows 7 is capable of executing the booting of the system from a virtual hard disk (VHD). Windows 7 also includes the enhanced version of Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) which widely supports the real-time applications of multimedia like, 3D games and video playback. This clears the path for the use of Direct X 10 in a remote desktop environment. Moreover, Windows 7 Starter will be freed from the limit of only three applications.
Features Which Are Removed
Several of the programs and the capabilities that were present in Windows Vista have not been included or at least have not been changed a bit in Windows 7 that led to the unavailability of certain functionalities. Some of the very significant features and components that are not included in windows Vista are Start Menu Interface, Windows Calendar, InkBall and Windows ultimate Extras. There are three more applications that are not included in the list of features of Windows 7 but can be downloaded with the help of a package called Windows Live Essentials and those three applications are: Windows Movie Maker, windows Photo Gallery and Windows Mail.
Antitrust Regulatory Attention
Windows 7 is being scrutinized by the federal regulators of the United States just like any other Microsoft operating systems. The federal regulators of the United States oversee the operations of the Microsoft Company under the settlement of United States vs. Microsoft, 2001. As the status reports say, a three member panel of the federal regulators already started scrutinizing and examining the windows 7 prototypes from February 2008. An analyst at Jupiter research, Mr. Gartenberg said that it is a big challenge before Microsoft to continue adding new features to its operating systems that can attract the consumers towards it and don’t become any nuisance in the eyes of the regulators. It may be possible that Microsoft would have to ship windows 7 to Europe along with its rival browsers like, Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. This possibility is being looked as going to be certain in the face of the fear of ‘European Union Microsoft Competition case’ towards the inclusion of Internet explorer, which is being taken as a harming competition in Europe. But the Microsoft Company has assured that the users will be able to disable several additional features in the Windows 7 that couldn’t be disabled in Windows Vista and Internet Explorer is also one of those features that could be switched on and off.
Windows 7 will be made available in as many versions as six, but the most widely versions which are going to be available in the retail market are Professional versions and Home Premium versions. Other versions have been designed to cater for the needs of other markets like, developing worlds or for enterprise use. Each advanced version of Windows 7 will include all the features of the less advanced version in addition to several extra features. All of the versions of Windows 7 will support the processor architecture of 32-bit (x86) as well as 64-bit (x86-64), except one, i.e. Windows 7 Starter. As suggested by Microsoft, machine will have the features stored, for all of the versions of Windows 7 irrespective of which version is working. If a user wants to have some extra features that are not visible or are disabled in the current version of Windows 7 then he or she can upgrade to the specific version in which the required features are available for use. To upgrade the version a user will need to purchase the upgrade through Windows Anytime Upgrade which will render the additional features of the upgraded version unlocked. Microsoft is yet to disclose any details regarding the volume licensing and the price of the operating system.