Windows 7

Microsoft is previewing its “first major upgrade for Windows 7″ – a downloadable suite of programs called Windows Live Essentials.

Elements of the suite, such as Photo Gallery and Movie Maker, will be familiar to users and, while a number of features have been added, the upgrade seems neither major nor essential. Read more

Like a lot of Windows Vista users, I couldn’t wait to upgrade to Windows 7 on my home PC. Finally, something from Microsoft that promised to make computing faster and easier. Since I was just moving from Vista Home Premium to 7 Home Premium I didn’t even bother backing up my files.

That was nearly a very big mistake.

The upgrade ended up taking more than a week, with multiple phone calls to India and five hours on the phone with Microsoft engineers. And I now have several more hours of work ahead to reinstall all my applications and sort out my personal files. I don’t think I’ve lost any data, but fast and easy it wasn’t. Read more

Seven days in tech, seven days (counting today) till Windows 7 launches. In this edition of FT techtalk, the San Francisco bureau looked back on a week of recession-busting earnings from the likes of Google and Intel and forward to the next booster for the tech industry.

Find out what Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer thinks is the best thing about Windows 7 and why his chum over at Yahoo, Carol Bartz, is in the hot seat next week, in our transcript of the conversation after the jump.

And don’t forget to join us live for FT techtalk, a multimedia chat with the FT’s tech correspondents, at the same time – 0800 Pacific (1500GMT, 1600BST) next Friday.

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It’s official. The final Windows 7 bits have been set in stone. With today’s Release to Manufacturing, Microsoft can finally close its sorry Windows Vista chapter. Along with the global consumer launch on 22nd October, Microsoft is planning a business launch for the new versions of both the Windows client and server operating systems on 9th November.

This will be the first time the new server software is launched at the same time as a new client, says Bill Laing, head of the Windows server division. Expect some heavy “better together” marketing later this year as Microsoft tries to convince IT departments of the cost savings and greater manageability from upgrading both client and server at the same time. Read more

  • The board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, better known as ICANN, picked as the nonprofit group’s chief executive Rod Beckstrom, who until earlier this year served as cyber-security czar at the US Department of Homeland Security. Like his predecessors, Mr Beckstrom didn’t accomplish much there, but it later emerged he had a skeleton staff and equivalent funding. ICANN is as close to a governing body as the internet gets, but its core mission is minding the process by which Website names and numeric addresses are assigned.
  • Some early buyers of Windows 7 will get it for the knock-down price of $49.99. Rob Enderle thought the limited-time special offer was a direct response to the $29 Apple is charging for an upgrade to Snow Leopard. Michael Gartenberg called it a “missed opportunity” to give all Vista users the chance to move beyond the much-maligned operating system.

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Microsoft has announced what consumers will be paying for Windows 7 when the new operating system is launched in October, which may seem a bit rich to those who feel they have been paying for a long time for choosing to use the current Windows Vista.

Vista has been a clunker of an OS from Microsoft, so bad its 8-year-old predecessor Windows XP is a joy to use in comparison and remains the safe OS of choice for the corporate world. Read more

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The forthcoming Windows 7 will be a big test of Microsoft’s ability to segment the market for the operating system and persuade more users to pay up for higher-end versions.

So it isn’t a good sign for the company (though it is a good sign for consumers) if Microsoft is forced to add more capabilities to cheaper versions of the software. Read more

Intel, the world’s biggest chipmaker,  threw its weight this week behind a new version of an operating system – but it was not Windows 7.

That may come as some surprise to observers who have always put Intel in the Microsoft camp with their “Wintel” alliance. Read more

From Digital Business:

“Something weird and rather wonderful is happening to operating systems, and it is not just the new psychedelic wallpaper designs for Windows 7.”

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  • The Obama administration’s top antitrust enforcer on Monday declared an end to Bush-era policies that made regulatory action against the biggest companies a rarity. The Justice Department’s Christine Varney said that dominant companies need not collude with their rivals to violate the law, and Silicon Valley attorneys said Google, Microsoft and Oracle would be well advised to tread more carefully.
  • Microsoft confirmed what everyone expected, announcing that Windows 7 would be released in time for the holidays. Missing the crucial holiday shopping season, when many consumers buy new PCs, would have dealt a blow to PC makers who depend on strong holiday sales.

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After the debacle of the long Vista development cycle and rocky launch, Microsoft must be breathing a sigh of relief over the very positive reception for Windows 7 since a beta version was made available early last month. But it may still be too early to turn the page and move on.

Certainly, a lot of corporate users are starting to weigh whether to skip Vista altogether and move to 7. That much is admitted in a blog post today by Gavriella Schuster, senior director of the Windows product management group. The growing likelihood that 7 will come out in time for this year’s Christmas season – and possibly as early as July, to catch the back-to-school sales – has added to the sense of expectation. Read more