Tag Archives | Microsoft Windows 7

Maybe They Should Call It “Windows 7 Grudging Acknowledgment of Reality Edition”

Windows 7 LogoPaul Thurrott had it right: Microsoft has decided to lift the three-apps-at-a-time limitation from Windows 7 Starter Edition, the low-cost, low-end version of the OS which will likely show up on a lot of netbooks beginning this fall.

The company announced the change in plans at the Windows 7 Team Blog, in a post that also detailed remaining limitations of Starter Edition, among them its lack of Aero effects, custom wallpaper (!),  Taskbar previews, Fast User Switching, Media Center features, and DVD playback. It also tries to dissuade folks from associating Starter Edition and netbooks too closely:

As we continue to say since we announced the Windows 7 editions in February, all editions of Windows 7 have been optimized to run on the broadest range of hardware ranging from small notebook PCs all the way up to high end gaming machines. Windows 7 Starter should not be considered “the netbook SKU” as most machines in this category can run any edition of Windows 7. Many of our beta users have installed Windows 7 Ultimate on their small notebook PCs and have given us very positive feedback on their experience.

The post’s right that netbooks can run beefier versions of Windows 7–actually, I’m typing these very words on an Asus Eee PC 1000HE that’s working just fine with Windows 7 Ultimate. But  it remains to be seen just  how many netbooks will ship with anything other other than Starter given the price competition in the category (which is fierce) and the additional cost to bundle higher-end versions of Windows (which will be substantial). Starter Edition exists only because Microsoft would otherwise have to cede the low-end netbook market to Linux; it’s a version of Windows that Microsoft is releasing only because it doesn’t have much choice.

So if you’re thinking about buying a Windows 7 netbook, would you opt for Starter, or would you be willing to pay extra bucks for Windows 7 Home Premium or another more full-featured edition?


More on Windows 7 and Netbooks

Windows 7 LogoMicrosoft is still wrestling with the question of how to get Windows 7 onto dirt-cheap netbooks without crushing the profit margin it makes when it sells copies of Windows to PC manufacturers. Two pieces of scuttlebutt emerged today; one sounds promising for netbook buyers, and the other is kind of discouraging.

Promising scuttlebutt: Paul Thurrott is reportingvery briefly–that Microsoft has decided to lift the three-applications-at-a-time restriction from Windows 7 Starter Edition, the version of the OS that it expects to be popular on netbooks. While there were numerous exceptions to the limit, it’ll still be good news if it’s gone–as long as Microsoft doesn’t compensate by hobbling Starter Edition in some other way.

Discouraging scuttlebutt: A site called Tech ARM has what it says is a list of limitations that Microsoft will apply to machines that qualify to come with Windows 7 Starter Edition preinstalled. They’re tighter in some places than the similar restrictions for Windows XP, and laxer in others–but the one that sticks in my craw is the continuing requirement that netbooks ship with a maximum of 1GB of RAM. RAM’s cheap enough these days that there would surely be 2GB netbooks if Microsoft didn’t try to prevent them from shipping. And I know from my experience with my own Asus EeePC 1000HE that it’s a markedly more pleasing computer with the 2GB upgrade that I installed than it would have been with half the RAM.

There’s something basically unsettling about a software provider putting rules in place to discourage PC manufacturers from selling well-equipped PCs–especially when said software provider has a big ad campaign going that’s centered around specsmanship. I hope that the rumors are wrong–or if they’re right, that Microsoft takes yet another pass at figuring out how to put Windows on netbooks in a way that makes sense.


It’s Official: Windows 7 For the Holidays

At this point, anything else would have been a heckuva surprise, but now it’s formal: At its Tech Ed conference today, Microsoft announced that it plans to ship Windows 7 (and Windows Server 2008 R2) in time for the holidays. Until now, the company had just been saying that it planned to get Win 7 out within three years of Vista’s release, which could have left it arriving in early 2010.

I’m not at Tech Ed, but Microsoft’s press release doesn’t seem to define what it means by the holiday season. The company is presumably confident that it can get Windows 7 onto new PCs and into stores by late November. But with the Windows 7 Release Candidate seemingly in good shape and no further major pre-release versions planned, you don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to speculate that Microsoft really thinks it can get the OS out in time for students heading off to college this fall to buy Windows 7 laptops, and that it’s saving that news to spring on us later.

If Windows 7 does indeed ship months before Microsoft’s self-imposed deadline, it’ll be good news–assuming, of course, that the version that ships is robust, and well-supported by applications and devices. It’s going to feel odd being deprived of one of the tech world’s most reliable guffaws, though: the notion that Windows. Always. Ships. Late.


Windows 7 Release Candidate: It’s Buggy!

Actually, it’s been running quite well on my test machines for a pre-release operating system, but I have encountered a couple of instances in which it seemed to be fussy about what folder I installed an application into. Now it’s looking like I may have run into a major bug. Ed Bott has the news:

Yesterday, Microsoft published Knowledge Base article 970789, which provides details of a problem that affects the 32-bit (x86) English-language version of Windows 7 build 7100. The problem, in short, is that the installer incorrectly sets access control lists (ACLs) on the root of the system drive.

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Microsoft Releases a Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor

If you’re contemplating trying out the Windows 7 Release Candidate but are worried about system requirements and compatibility issues, check out the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor that Microsoft released in beta form today. It scans Windows XP and Windows Vista machines and responds with a report about whether their system specs are up to running Windows 7, along with whether any drivers or applications are likely to cause trouble. It also alerts Windows XP users to the fact that they can’t install 7 on top of XP and will have to do a fresh install.

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Windows Genuine Advantage: A Lousy Microsoft Name No More!

Back, in March, I wrote an article for PC World on the worst Microsoft product names of all time. One of my nominees was Windows Genuine Advantage, the anti-piracy technology that’s suffered at least a couple of major breakdowns that caused woes for paying customers. I wondered what exactly was advantageous about it for anyone but Microsoft, and groused that it was a patronizing moniker. And I suggested that Microsoft change the name to “Windows Anti-Piracy Technology.”

Over at Cnet, Ina Fried is reporting that Microsoft is dumping “Windows Genuine Advantage” for a name that’s close to my recommendation: Windows Activation Technologies. And it’s making activation slightly less annoying:

In Windows Vista, if a user does not activate their software immediately, they get a warning that they still need to do so. The dialog box offers two options, to activate immediately or to do so later. However, the activate later box cannot be checked for 15 seconds.

Microsoft decided this was a bit too annoying. With Windows 7, users can click activate later immediately, but then get a dialog box touting the benefits of activation.

I suspect I haven’t squawked about Windows’ copy protection for the last time. But to be fair to Microsoft, most of the changes it’s made to activation in the last couple of years have been to make it less annoying, and it’s suffered no recent meltdowns. And at least I won’t feel like my intelligence is being insulted every time I hear its name.


Windows 7 Release Candidate: The Technologizer FAQ

Windows 7 Release Candidate FAQWindows 7 is here–sort of. Yes, Microsoft still isn’t talking about when it’ll ship the final version–all evidence suggests it’ll be sometime this Fall–but the company is unleashing the Windows 7 Release Candidate today. It’s a free, all-but-final version of the operating system, and it’ll work until March 1st, 2010 before Microsoft forces you to uninstall it or overwrite it with a paid-for copy of the final edition. In short, if you’re itching to give Windows 7 a try, you can.

I’ve been using Windows 7 in various prerelease incarnations since last October, and for the more part, I’ve liked what I’ve seen. (So did most of the Technologizer community members who took our survey on the beta.) For the past few days I’ve been running the Release Candidate–mostly on an Asus EeePC 1000HE, and to a lesser extent on a Dell XPS M1330 laptop. (Full disclosure: The latter machine was loaned to me by Microsoft for Windows 7 testing.)

I’ll be writing about this beta a lot in the coming months–right up until the time that I get my hands on a version of W7 that’s even closer to being ready to roll. After the jump, some questions and answers about the Release Candidate and Windows 7 in general.
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Windows 7 Release Candidate: Available to All

Windows 7 LogoIt’s not all that often that the words “Windows” and “ahead of schedule” can be used in the same sentence, but here we go: As Cnet’s Ina Fried is reporting, Microsoft. which said it was going to make the Windows 7 Release Candidate available for download tomorrow, opened up the floodgates tonight, ahead of schedule. Here’s the download page. I’ll be posting a detailed guide soon, but here’s the short story: I’ve been using the Release Candidate for a few days and it’s gone–well, not perfectly, but really well. Even though Windows 7’s final version isn’t due for months, I hope and expect that the Release Candidate is the version of Windows I’ll turn to most often from here on out.

If you’re intrigued enough by the Release Candidate to consider trying it, I say go for it–as long as you can install it in its own partition, rather than overwriting a working copy of Windows Vista. (Unless you’re really anxious, though, waiting a day or two’s not a bad idea, given Microsoft’s history of struggling to keep up with the initial throngs of crazed downloaders.)

If you spend time with the RC, please let us know what you think. And stay tuned for more thoughts from me.


Microsoft Seems Eager to Divorce Vista

vistalogoWasting no time, Microsoft appears set to stop sales of Vista as soon as Windows 7 ships.  Official support from the company would be provided through April 2012, however.

This would be a change from the last OS revision, where XP was sold long after Vista’s 2006 debut.

In a somewhat cryptic statement, Microsoft General Manager Richard Francis wrote in an internal e-mail that he was “not sure” if computer makers would be able to ship Vista after Win 7’s launch, PC World reports. That doesn’t make much sense, since Microsoft is in control of the OS reaching its manufacturers.

I might be reading too much into it, but it sounds to me like Microsoft is trying to carefully word a quick exit from Vista, without actually saying its dumping the OS. Everybody knows that in terms of success, Vista was just about as popular as Windows ME (we all know how well that one went over).

Add to this the fact that XP will continue to live on in netbooks until at least 2010, and it seems to further my supposition.


Windows 7 Release Candidate: The Rollout Begins. Rockily.

Windows 7When Microsoft set a release schedule for the Windows 7 Release Candidate–which will apparently be the last major version before it finalizes the OS–it said that members of its TechNet service for IT types would get it on April 30th, and everyone else would have to wait until May 5th. If that was to ensure trouble-free downloads for everyone involved, it didn’t work: As Ed Bott reports, a database glitch prevented a lot of TechNet members from getting the download.

I had trouble myself, at first–but now, the download seems to be proceeding properly. I plan to install the RC on both a general-purpose notebook and a netbook, and look forward to sharing impressions. And if you snag the RC–either right now or at any time between now and general release–I’d love to know what you think.