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Windows 7 features, promises pre-beta software


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Redmond (WA) – Microsoft is beginning to build up interest in its next-generation operating system. The company confirmed that it will be handing out a pre-beta software at the PDC 2008 event next month and if the conference scheduled is any indication, Windows 7 will focus on five key areas: Graphics, communications, energy-efficient applications, multi-touch and a first step into Web 3.0.

It appears that Microsoft is well on track with the development of Windows 7. Barely 10 months after the company handed out its first “Milestone 1” version of the software to its closest partners, the company is now ready to share what it has been working on with a much larger developer crowd. In a post published on the website of the Professional Developers Conference 2008 (PDC 2008), Microsoft said that “keynote attendees will be among the first to receive the pre-beta build of Windows 7.”

Microsoft is referring to the keynote of Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president of the Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group. Sinofsky has led most of Microsoft’s public outreach relating to Windows 7. Following a rather lukewarm reception of the demonstration of Windows multi-touch features by Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer at this year’s All Things Digital conference, Sinofsky squashed all rumors that Windows 7 would be an entirely different operating system in May of this year. According to the executive, Windows 7 will be based on the kernel of Windows Server 2008 kernel, which is an evolution of the Windows Vista kernel. The executive highlighted driver compatibility, saying that Windows 7 will not come with a new driver model. “We're very clear that drivers and software that work on Windows Vista are going to work really well on Windows 7,” he said.

Since then, Windows 7 has largely been expected to become a Windows Vista on steroids, or, if you will, a Vista SE that will bridge the gap between Vista and completely new operating system that may be released in the late 2011 or 2012 timeframe. And the PDC 2008 scheduled appears to support these expectations – there will be some new features, but no surprises. Microsoft has dedicated a substantial portion of the conference to the new operating system: 22 out of 155 sessions will directly new features in Windows 7 – which makes the software the second-most covered topic (behind cloud services with 26 sessions) during the event.

The lion’s share of all Windows 7 sessions is dedicated to graphics - the appearance of Windows 7 and applications. Four tracks will provide information on the Windows 7 graphics architecture, new API’s to find, organize and visualize, new text and graphic API’s and Windows 7 taskbar integration. There is lots of content that will deal with Direct3D and how developers can take greater advantage of GPUs, but we know that these sessions will be restricted to graphics and that Windows 7 will not support the use of GPGPUs.

Two sessions focus exclusively on performance (of background processes) and energy efficiency of applications under Windows 7, and other major tracks will zero in on communications applications, native web services and how developers can develop applications that will take advantage on Windows 7’s multi-touch support. A look at new Shell user experience APIs also looks to be an interesting briefing.

If there is a surprise, then it surely is a touch of Web 3.0 in Windows 3: Software development engineer Dan Polivy will lead a session entitled “Windows 7: New APIs for Building Context-Aware Applications” targeted at experienced Windows developers. There is no information on this session available at this time, but if Microsoft is putting a greater focus on context-aware applications, Windows 7 may have a secret killer feature in store for us.

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