Windows 7 will be more fast and easy, vows Microsoft

Microsoft Corp. said on Tuesday that regular PC users will be able to test out a “beta” version of Windows early next year. Windows 7, the forthcoming operating system, will let users choose to see fewer alerts and warnings from their computers.

Rampant notifications and pop-up windows alerting people to potential security risks have irked many users of Windows Vista.
“We had all the best intentions of helping to secure the PC platform even more, particularly for novice PC users who needed to be protected,” said Steven Sinofsky, a senior vice president in Microsoft’s Windows group.
Sinofsky didn’t back down from the major changes in Vista responsible for the rise in alerts, but he did acknowledge that Microsoft needed to work earlier and more closely with outside companies to avoid a similar mess in Windows 7.
“Despite the difficult change we introduced, we did move forward the ecosystem, making it more secure for end users,” he said. With Vista, Microsoft made some significant design changes to the way windows and icons look, and also to where certain features and functions are stashed in the system.
Windows 7 keeps some of those changes, but tosses out others. In an interview, Julie Larson-Green, a Windows vice president, offered one small example: Microsoft took the “add printer” feature out of the quick-access Start menu, but after users complained, the company is putting it back in Windows 7.

Larson-Green, who led the redesign of Office for the 2007 edition, said that some of the changes made in Vista’s design made sense to designers but weren’t fully tested on actual PC users.
With Windows 7, Microsoft is also making subtle but useful changes to the task bar along the bottom of the screen. The designers have taken out some redundant buttons that launch applications. And when users roll over the icon of a program in the task bar, it’s easier to see how many documents or windows are open, and switch between them.
Microsoft also showed off a quick way of organizing recently used files, Web sites or often-used program features it’s calling “jumplists.” The company also introduced a concept called “libraries,” which automatically finds similar files from a single PC, its external hard drive and even other PCs on a home network, then displays them together in a single folder. For example, that could be handy for organizing a family’s digital photos, Microsoft said.
The company also appears to be betting on a rise in touch-screen PCs. Windows 7 builds in more support for gestures so that even programs that aren’t designed specifically for touch-screen computers can be used to some degree by poking or swiping fingers across the screen.
Under the hood, Microsoft said it improved the speed of the system and cut the amount of memory it needs to run. Sinofsky held up a netbook – a low-cost, low-power laptop that would have a hard time running Vista – and said it’s working with Windows 7.

Microsoft gave copies of a “pre-beta” version of Windows 7 to programmers attending a conference in Los Angeles, and announced the early 2009 target for the general-use beta.
The Redmond, Wash.-based software maker promised deadlines it couldn’t keep when it was developing Vista, and the company is trying hard to avoid a similar debacle this time. Sinofsky said there is no date yet for the next milestone, a “release to manufacturing” version of Windows 7, and reiterated that the system is set to go on sale in early 2010.

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