Today's the day that Windows 7 is finally available, and users around the world are bidding a cheerful farewell to the universally-disliked Vista.
In South Africa, users could have been forgiven if you didn't realise today was the long-awaited launch date as it's been one of the most low-key of Microsoft lauches in recent history.
However, Windows 7 is finally here and early reports indicate that it's living up to its early promise.
Microsoft, on its Web site, tells us that the new operating system builds on the features that has kept users loyal to the much-loved Windows XP – except that it's made the product even simpler to use.
With HomeGroup, it’s easy to share music, documents, printers, and everything else with the other PCs running Windows 7 in the home. Windows Search frees users from the chore of hunting through folders and subfolders to locate files. Better taskbar previews give users a good view of what's open, and Jump Lists show them their recent files with a single right-click.
Windows 7 has also been designed to to help the PC sleep and resume faster.
It also supports the latest advances in PC hardware, like 64-bit computing and multi-core processors, and improved memory utilisation helps hardware reach its full performance potential.
Using Windows 7, users will be able to connect to networks – home, work, coffee shop.
One of the most talked-about new features in Windows 7 is Windows Touch, which let users use their fingers to flip through files, work with pictures, and even “paint".
Limited one-finger touch capability has been available in Windows for a number of years, but Windows 7 is the first to fully embrace multi-touch technology. This means users can simply place two fingers on the screen of a multitouch-compatible PC and spread them apart in order to zoom. To right-click a file, touch it with one finger and tap the screen with a second.
Windows Touch is available only in the Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate editions of Windows 7.
“Microsoft designed Windows 7 to be more reliable, more responsive, and to make the things people do every day easier,” says Zelda Emmerick, product manager: Microsoft at Axiz. “Windows 7 is also easier to preinstall and sell, helping the channel to reduce manufacturing and training time.
“Microsoft knows that compatibility and performance were concerns with Windows Vista.," she adds. "The company listened to its partners and customers in building Windows 7, and has delivered an operating system that focuses on the fundamentals of compatibility and performance.
"Microsoft also understood the feedback regarding application, device, and hardware compatibility with Windows Vista and has resolved these issues and created the best possible operating experience with Windows 7.”
In the current economy, many customers have delayed PC purchases. With the value Windows 7 provides, Emmerick points out, as well as its outstanding performance on low-cost and high-end PCs, the operating system can be a catalyst for new PC sales.
Windows 7 has been developed to work well with many different hardware specifications, so the channel can offer customers the latest in PC reliability and responsiveness targeted to meet their specific needs on a range of PCs – from low-end, small notebook PCs to high-end gaming rigs.
Microsoft also partnered with OEMs in the development of Windows 7.
“Ongoing conversations with OEMs, device manufacturers, and software developers have enabled Microsoft to deliver advanced platform technology that provides new opportunities for partners and better end-to-end experiences for customers," says Emmerick.
"Based on feedback from system builders, Windows 7 will be delivered as a single image; separate images are not needed for each edition or SKU. This simplifies the installation process and can help speed up customer order fulfillment.
“In addition, new deployment tools have been designed to increase flexibility, speed, and efficiency in product development, helping to reduce costs.”
Gartner predicts that, in 2010, Windows 7 will become the dominant operating system on new PCs with nearly 66% of all new PCs preloaded with Windows 7 by the end of the year.
In addition, it is expected to overtake Vista as the main operating system in 2012 with 53% of installed PCs running that version of Windows.
Hardware manufacturers have been quick off the mark in accouncing Windows 7 products.
Among the first was Fujitsu, which has announced a comprehensive range of desktop, notebook and thin client product lines ready for Windows 7.
The company's new Lifebook models, in particular, have an improved user experience due to the advances of Windows 7 and Windows Touch technology.
Fujitsu’s Lifebook T4310, Lifebook T4410, and Lifebook T5010 tablet PCs support Windows 7 multi-touch screen capabilities. The Dual-Digitizer technology in these devices enables intuitive data input by automatically recognising if the user is working with Fujitsu’s patented multifunctional pen or finger, and acts either as an active digitizer or touch screen.