Windows 7 (formerly codenamed Blackcomb and Vienna) is the next release of Microsoft Windows, an operating system produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers, including home and business desktops, laptops, Tablet PCs, netbooks and media center PCs. Microsoft stated in 2007 that it is planning Windows 7 development for a three-year time frame starting after the release of its predecessor, Windows Vista, but that the final release date will be determined by product quality.
Unlike its predecessor, Windows 7 is intended to be an incremental upgrade to Vista, with the goal of being fully compatible with device drivers, applications, and hardware which Windows Vista is already compatible with. Presentations given by the company in 2008 have focused on multi-touch support, a redesigned Windows Shell with a new taskbar, a home networking system called HomeGroup, and performance improvements. Some applications that have been included with prior releases of Microsoft Windows, most notably Windows Mail, Windows Movie Maker, and Windows Photo Gallery, are no longer included with the operating system; they are instead offered separately (free of charge) as part of the Windows Live Essentials suite.
Development of Windows 7
Originally, a version of Windows codenamed Blackcomb was planned as the successor to Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Major features were planned for Blackcomb, including an emphasis on searching and querying data and an advanced storage system named WinFS to enable such scenarios. Later, Blackcomb was delayed and an interim, minor release, codenamed "Longhorn" was announced for 2003. By the middle of 2003, however, Longhorn had acquired some of the features originally intended for Blackcomb. After three major viruses exploited flaws in Windows operating systems within a short time period in 2003, Microsoft changed its development priorities, putting some of Longhorn's major development work on hold in order to develop new service packs for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. Development of Longhorn was also "reset" in September 2004.
Blackcomb was renamed Vienna in early 2006, and again to Windows 7 in 2007. In 2008, it was announced that Windows 7 would also be the official name of the operating system.
Bill Gates, in an interview with Newsweek, suggested that the next version of Windows would "be more user-centric. "Gates later said that Windows 7 will also focus on performance improvements; Steven Sinofsky later expanded on this point, explaining in the Engineering Windows 7 blog that the company was using a variety of new tracing tools to measure the performance of many areas of the operating system on an ongoing basis, to help locate inefficient code paths and to help prevent performance regressions.
Senior Vice President Bill Veghte stated that Windows 7 will not have the kind of compatibility issues with Windows Vista that Vista has with previous versions. Speaking about Windows 7 on 16 October 2008, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer confirmed compatibility between Vista and Windows 7. Ballmer also confirmed the relationship between Vista and Windows 7, indicating that Windows 7 will be an improved version of Vista.
On 27 December 2008 Windows 7 Beta was leaked onto the Internet. According to a performance test by ZDNet, Windows 7 Beta has beaten both Windows XP and Vista in several key areas, including boot and shutting down time, working with files and loading documents. On 7 January 2009, the 64-bit version of the Windows 7 Beta (build 7000) was leaked onto the web.
The official beta, announced at the CES 2009, was made available to MSDN and TechNet subscribers on 7 January 2009 and was made briefly available for public download on Microsoft TechNet on 9 January 2009 before being withdrawn and replaced with a coming soon message. The servers were experiencing difficulty in dealing with the number of users who wished to download the beta. Microsoft had to add additional servers to cope with the large volume of interest from the public. Due to the unexpectedly high demand, Microsoft has also decided to remove its initial 2.5 million download limit and make it available to the public until January 24th 2009.
Features new to Windows 7
Windows 7 includes a number of new features, such as advances in touch, speech, and handwriting recognition, support for virtual hard disks, improved performance on multi-core processors, improved boot performance, and kernel improvements.
Windows 7 adds support for systems using multiple heterogeneous graphics cards from different vendors, a new version of Windows Media Center, Gadgets being integrated into Windows Explorer, a Gadget for Windows Media Center, the ability to visually pin and unpin items from the Start Menu and Taskbar, improved media features, the XPS Essentials Pack being integrated, Windows PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment (ISE), and a redesigned Calculator with multiline capabilities including Programmer and Statistics modes along with unit conversion.
Many new items have been added to the Control Panel including: ClearType Text Tuner, Display Color Calibration Wizard, Gadgets, Recovery, Troubleshooting, Workspaces Center, Location and Other Sensors, Credential Manager, Biometric Devices, System Icons, Action Center, and Display. Windows Security Center has been renamed the Windows Action Center (Windows Health Center and Windows Solution Center in earlier builds) which encompasses both security and maintenance of the computer.
The taskbar has seen the biggest visual changes, where the Quick Launch toolbar has been merged with the task buttons to create an enhanced taskbar or what Microsoft internally refers to as the "Superbar". This enhanced taskbar also enables the Jump Lists feature to allow easy access to common tasks. The revamped taskbar also allows the reordering of taskbar buttons.
Screenshots have appeared demonstrating a new feature called 'Peek'. Peek is a quick way of making all visible windows transparent for a quick look at the desktop. A Microsoft spokesman said that "this will be useful for users who want a quick look at the news" in reference to RSS gadgets on the desktop.
Unlike Windows Vista, window borders do not turn dark when maximized when Windows Aero is applied. Instead, it remains in Aero Transparency even when maximized in Windows 7.
For developers, Windows 7 includes a new networking API with support for building SOAP based web services in native code (as opposed to .NET based WCF web services), new features to shorten application install times, reduced UAC prompts, simplified development of installation packages, and improved globalization support through a new Extended Linguistic Services API.
At WinHEC 2008 Microsoft announced that color depths of 30-bit and 48-bit would be supported in Windows 7 along with the wide color gamut scRGB (which for HDMI 1.3 can be converted and output as xvYCC). The video modes supported in Windows 7 are 16-bit sRGB, 24-bit sRGB, 30-bit sRGB, 30-bit with extended color gamut sRGB, and 48-bit scRGB. Windows 7 adds online versions of Spades, Backgammon and Checkers.
Features removed from Windows 7
- * In Windows 7, Windows Mail, Windows Photo Gallery, and Windows Movie Maker are part of Windows Live Essentials.
- * Windows Meeting Space
- * Windows Sidebar (Gadgets will remain, sitting freely on the Desktop)
- * InkBall
Antitrust regulatory attention
As with other Microsoft operating systems, Windows 7 is being studied by federal regulators who oversee the company's operations following the 2001 United States v. Microsoft settlement. According to status reports filed, the three-member panel began assessing prototypes of the new operating system in February 2008. Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Jupiter Research said that, "[Microsoft's] challenge for Windows 7 will be how can they continue to add features that consumers will want that also don't run afoul of regulators."
Windows 7 editions
Windows 7 editions will include one for netbooks and sub-notebook computers, at least one for consumers, and at least one for enterprises. The Windows 7 Beta (build 7000) installs Ultimate Edition by default.
Microsoft has published some recommended specifications for a system running the Windows 7 beta.
|Beta Recommended Specs|
|Processor Speed||1 GHz (Either 32-bit or 64-bit)|
|Memory (RAM)||1 GB|
|Graphics card||DirectX 9.0 capable|
|Graphics memory||128 MB|
|HDD free space||16 GB|