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Windows 7: Microsoft Gets in Touch

A few years ago, soccer legend Diego Maradona, seen here scoring the infamous "Hand of God" goal in the 1986 World Cup (sorry, English readers), was in ill health -- gravely ill, many reports said. As he lay in a hospital bed in Buenos Aires (as best we can remember; it was in Argentina somewhere, anyway), huge crowds held a vigil outside the building and waited for any scrap of news that supposedly came from Maradona's bedside.

The condition of poor Diego held an entire nation captive, even though there were relatively few updates on how he was doing. The Argentine people, to whom he was and is such a massively important figure, were hungry for any news they could get.

We mention this because the trade press -- RCPU definitely included -- tends, any time someone in Redmond mentions Windows, to virtually flock to Microsoft in pretty much the same way that those folks in Argentina swarmed to Maradona's place of convalescence. And this week, just after the Memorial Day holiday here in the U.S., somebody at Microsoft mentioned Windows. So, here we are.

In fact, Microsoft did more than mention Windows 7 this week. Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates -- hey, isn't he supposed to be retired or something? -- demonstrated it at The Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital conference in California. The big news? Windows 7 will have a touch-screen interface. (As you might imagine, though, not everybody is impressed.)

Aside from the fact that our computer screens are about to get a lot greasier, there are only a few other things that we know about Windows 7. Although Microsoft's Chris Flores blogged about how much Microsoft isn't saying about Windows 7, Windows Chief Steven Sinofsky did answer a few questions about the forthcoming operating system in a chat with CBS's new property, CNET.

(Also, Microsoft has apparently unleashed a hideous logo for the not-yet-born OS -- although why we need a logo for a forthcoming product that only has a code name is sort of beyond RCPU's comprehension.)

Anyway, most of what came out of Sinofsky's interview can be summed up pretty quickly: Windows 7 will not have a new kernel; the kernel will build on those of Windows Vista (hmm) and Windows Server 2008. There will be a 32-bit version and a 64-bit version, and Windows 7 should debut sometime around January 2010 -- although Ballmer mentioned late 2009 at the D show -- give or take a few months (or years, if we know Microsoft, but that's our little added comment).

Sinofsky and Flores both emphasized that Microsoft is going to be pretty tight-lipped about Windows 7, despite this week's somewhat impromptu (and, apparently, less-than-comprehensive) demo. Maybe that's because the company let the hype about Vista get way out of control, and the OS turned out to be...well, let's just say, not as popular as Redmond would've liked and maybe not as useful as partners and users would've liked (although Microsoft executives still insist that it's great). Yes, we're feeling kind toward Vista today.

So, like the reporters, fans and various hangers-on who waited so impatiently for updates on Diego Maradona, we're throwing you these scraps about Windows 7. Diego, of course, survived and is thankfully now in much better health. Windows, we're sure, will survive, too -- despite Vista. We're hoping that, aside from being more "touchy feely" than previous Windows versions, Windows 7 will be lighter, simpler and more immediately compatible with other software and devices than Vista was. We'll see. Until then...we'll, uh, keep in touch with Microsoft for updates.

What do you want in Windows 7? What's your take on the touch screen? Or do you just plan to use XP forever? Sound off at [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on May 28, 2008


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