In a keynote address at the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer announced the beta availability of the Windows 7 operating system as well as the availability of the latest version of the Windows Live, a suite of personal communications services and applications.
"I'm thrilled to announce the availability of the Windows 7 beta, which is on track to deliver simplicity and reliability," Ballmer says. "Windows 7 and Windows Live are part of an incredible pipeline of consumer technology that is making it easier than ever for people to communicate, share and get more done."
The beta version of Windows 7, Microsoft's next-generation PC operating system, can be downloaded today by MSDN, TechBeta and TechNet customers. Consumers who want to test-drive the beta will be able to download it from Friday (9 January) at http://www.microsoft.com/windows7.
Microsoft also announced the global availability of Windows Live, a free suite of communications and sharing applications. Windows Live makes it easy for people to communicate, share and keep their online lives in sync and in one place with one login. The new and enhanced Windows Live services, along with Windows Live Mail and Windows Live Photo Gallery are designed to work seamlessly with more than 50 popular Internet services.
Ballmer also announced new alliances with the following companies:
* Dell- in February, to offer a comprehensive experience for consumers to connect, share and personalise their content, Dell will offer preloaded Windows Live Essentials (a free suite of applications for instant messaging, e-mail and photos that complement Windows Live on the Web) and Live Search on a majority of its new consumer and small-business PCs globally.
* Facebook – in the coming months, Facebook users can choose to share content they post on Facebook, including photos, directly into Windows Live.
* Verizon Wireless – under a new five-year relationship that covers mobile search and advertising, Verizon subscribers in the US will be able to use Live Search to search for local business and shopping information; access maps and directions; perform general Internet searches; and find ring tones, games, wallpaper and other online mobile products and services.
Together with Internet Explorer 8, currently in beta and releasing soon, Windows Live helps make the things people do most on the Web (searching, sharing and communicating) faster and less complex with fewer clicks, logins and customizations. Windows Live is now available for download at http://www.windowslive.com/explore, or automatically via Microsoft Update for current customers.
Microsoft demonstrated new features and key improvement in Windows 7, including:
* Work the way consumers want. With Windows 7, Microsoft paid special attention to performance, reliability, security, compatibility and battery life. The company is on track to deliver a great experience that will allow customers to spend more time doing the things they want to do, without the operating system getting in the way.
* Make everyday tasks faster and easier. The more streamlined and intuitive design of Windows 7 is intended to simplify the things people do every day on their PCs. Desktop improvements make using the PC easier and provide immediate access to the applications and files people use most often through features such as Jumplists, Previews and the new Taskbar. The new Home Group feature makes it easier for consumers to connect multiple home PCs together to share printers and access files, music, photos and videos. Device Stage makes connecting and working with devices easier than ever with a single interface to manage devices and run common tasks. New multitouch technology in Windows 7 will enable people with touch-screen monitors to use multiple fingers to interact with their PC screens in a more intuitive way.
* Offer a better entertainment experience. Consumers today have access to more digital media and are increasingly using the PC as the hub of their electronic experiences. The "Play-to" feature in Windows 7 allows easier streaming of music, video and photos to devices in a home network. Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center in Windows 7 have built-in support for more media formats so people can use their PC to play more media content and sync it to a broader range of devices. As an alternative to monthly digital video recording (DVR) fees, Windows Media Center, available in some editions of Windows 7, with a TV tuner and improved user interface, makes recording TV free and easy.