The big news in software this morning is that Microsoft has launched Windows 7, the latest version of its computer operating system.I don't recall there ever being a Windows 6, or a Windows 5 for that matter. By my count, here's how Microsoft has numbered the versions of its flagship operating system software over the years (ignoring things like NT and subsequent .X releases like 3.1, etc.): 1, 2, 3, 95, 98, 2000, XP, Vista, 7. It just doesn't add up. I predict Redmond's next release will be something like "Windows 12: Ballmer's Revenge."
Anyway, Microsoft says that Windows 7 includes a streamlined user interface and several new features designed to improve ease of use, such as a redesigned taskbar and a "snap" capability that lets users automatically resize windows that are dragged to the left or right border of the screen.
"With Windows 7, there's never been a better time to be a PC," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a press release. "Together with our partners, we're bringing more choice, flexibility and value to the market than ever before. With Windows 7, you're sure to find a PC that fits your life."
Looking past the marketing speak though, the stakes are high for Microsoft and Windows 7. InformationWeek's Paul McDougall writes that pre-sales for the new OS are holding up well and that Microsoft will need that trend to continue.
Microsoft needs Windows 7 to be a hit, given that the company's software sales have experienced sharp declines in recent quarters. Windows sales were off 13% in Redmond's last fiscal year.
Consumer scrutiny of Windows has been fueled by the fact that Vista was found lacking by numerous critics. Common gripes pointed to its horsepower requirements, incompatibility with older systems, and its disruptive security measures.
InformationWeek also has a full report on Windows 7 available for download here.
Microsoft is simply too big to ever silence all of its critics, but time will tell if the company has done enough with Windows 7 to make many forget Vista's shortcomings.