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Microsoft had dug itself a cool, deep, dark hole with Windows Vista. Users demanding that Redmond extend the life of Windows XP wasn't exactly something they could be proud of, either. Bombarded by complaints and negative press even after the first service pack was released, the bar had been set high for Vista's successor: Windows 7. This review is based on an official copy of the Windows 7 RTM that Microsoft provided to CNET on July 30, 2009.

Luckily for Microsoft, Windows 7 is more than just spin. It's stable, smooth, and highly polished, introducing new graphical features, a new taskbar that can compete handily with the Mac OS X dock, and device management and security enhancements that make it both easier to use and safer. Importantly, it won't require the hardware upgrades that Vista demanded, partially because the hardware has caught up, and partially because Microsoft has gone to great lengths to make Windows 7 accessible to as many people as possible.

It's important to note that the public testing process for Windows 7 involved one limited-availability beta and one release candidate, and constituted what some have called the largest shareware trial period ever. As buggy and irritating as Vista was, Windows 7 isn't. Instead, it's the successor to Windows XP that Microsoft wishes Vista had been, and finally places it on competitive footing with other major operating systems like OS X and Linux.

Microsoft is offering six versions of Windows 7: Starter, Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate, OEM, and Enterprise. The three versions that Redmond will be promoting most heavily are Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate, although Starter will also be available to consumers.

Windows 7 will support both 32-bit and 64-bit systems. The bare minimum requirements for the 32-bit include a 1 GHz processor, 1 GB RAM, 16 GB available hard-disk space, and a DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver. 64-bit systems will require at least a 1 GHz processor, 2 GB RAM, 20 GB of free space on your hard drive, and a DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver. A touch-screen monitor is required to take advantage of the native touch features. Do note that some users have claimed to have limited success running the Windows 7 beta with less than 1 GB of RAM, but that's not recommended.

Microsoft is offering several paths to install Windows 7. People can buy a new computer with the operating system already installed, upgrade from Windows XP or Vista, or do a clean install on a computer the user already owns. The clean installation took us about 30 minutes, but that will vary depending on your computer.

The upgrade procedure is different depending on whether you're running Windows XP or Windows Vista. Vista users merely need to back up their data before choosing the Upgrade option from the install disc. Both XP Home and XP Pro users will have to back up their data, then choose Custom from the install disc. Custom will have the same effect as a clean install, although it'll save your old data in a folder called Windows.old. Once you choose Custom, you'll need to select the partition of your hard drive that contains Windows XP, and then follow the instructions to enter your product key and allow the computer to reboot as needed.

If you're not sure if your current computer can run Windows 7, you can download and run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor from Microsoft.

Source: CNET

At an overwhelmingly popular session during Microsoft TechEd Australia 2009 this week, Reed Shaffner from the Office team provided among other things a brief but satisfying peek at the latest Office Web Apps experience that has yet to be opened up for public beta testing. Here’s a couple photos and notes on what he showed off.

Bear in mind this demo was catered towards IT professionals so the Office Web Apps experience is sitting inside a Sharepoint portal, the actual Office Web Apps user interface should be very similar for the consumer version that sits within Windows Live too.

By default, clicking open a document from the archive opens the document for viewing. In this demo, Silverlight is installed and the enhanced viewer loads almost instantly. From what can be seen from the toolbar, simple functionality like “find” and “zoom” is provided. Conveniently the viewer can also be full-screened using a button on the top-right.

From this viewer, the user is provided two simple choices to edit the document – either to edit it online or download it do the desktop client. Although it was not demoed, one can only hope the “file” menu will include some printing or export functionality directly from the viewer.


Add this to the ever-growing list of Microsoft design decisions that doesn’t make sense.

Thanks to a thriving community of custom ROM developers at, I’m been fortunate enough to be able to upgrade my year-old Samsung i780 Windows phone to the Windows Mobile 6.5 OS.

From the past couple of days my overall experiences with Windows Mobile 6.5 has been positive, but, I do find myself puzzled why Microsoft declared what appears to be a half-finished product “done”. It’s as if a builder was half way through renovating a kitchen and walked off. To illustrate this, take a look at the disconcerting side-by-side picture above.

Both pictures are from Windows Mobile 6.5 and both are native in-call status screens. The difference is that if you make a call or receive a call whilst your screen is unlocked, you get the interface on the left. However, if your screen is locked, you get the far more modern, intuitive and touch-friendly experience interface on the right.

Whilst I understand why there is a difference from a technical low-level code perspective, it baffles me why the better experience is “hidden” in such a way that most people would probably not be aware of it or be able to use it very often since WM6.5 doesn’t automatically lock the screen by default anyway. It’s not just inconsistent, it doesn’t even make sense.

Having said that however it’s obvious Microsoft is heading into the right direction but the question is whether they can get there before the iPhone or Android lapses them.

I would like to point out though the new WM6.5 multi-function lock screen is very innovative is much more functional than the iPhone or Android’s single-purpose lock screens.