With the release to manufacturing date for Windows 7 just weeks away, Microsoft has hit the promotion trail claiming it has returned to the fundamentals.
“Over the years from XP and Vista we have been gathering millions of elements of feedback,” Sarah Vaughan, Windows 7 Commercial Group Lead at Microsoft Australia told CIO.
“Windows 7 has been developed based on that feedback to get the fundamentals right around performance, reliability and compatibility.”
According to Vaughan, much of the feedback has been related increasingly to the compatibility of Windows with the multitude of hardware and different types of applications, both hosted on the client and delivered via the cloud, available on the market.
“A big difference with Windows 7 is in the planning stages,” she said. “We worked with about 10,000 software and hardware partners in our early adoption programs.”
Microsoft was has also been working to identify third party applications and hardware providers unique to the Australian market with the goal of boosting compatibility.
“We have been looking at their roadmaps and our roadmaps,” she said. “It’s a key tenant of our development process now that we address compatibility prior to going to market.”
With the range and footprint of security threats growing dramatically since the release of Vista, security has also been a key area of feedback, Vaughan said. In particular, around its notorious user account control (UAC) feature.
“We had feedback that it was too chatty so people were turning it off, leaving themselves vulnerable,” she said. “[In Windows 7] we have already seen about a 29 percent reduction in the number of prompts.”
By way of example, Vaughan said that whereas Vista required four prompts to create or amend a folder, under Windows 7 there was now only one.
BitLocker, the Vista feature to encrypt data on PCs and notebooks has also been extended to encrypt removable storage, such as USB thumb drives, with BitLocker to Go.
Using AppLocker, IT administrators can also lock down the number of applications that are allowed to run on a standard environments. If an application is downloaded onto a PC or laptop, and it is not on an approved application list, then it cannot run, Vaughan said.
Feedback on the performance side has lead to increased boot up and shutdown times, Vaughan said, through no longer loading all Windows services at the same time, thus letting users access their desktop as soon as the OS has booted.
“Windows 7 can also performance tune based on user behaviour -- it learns based on the first 10 instances of booting what applications are most commonly used, and what services are needed in the background to run those applications,” she says. “It will start pre-running those applications on boot-up knowing that is your preferred behaviour.”
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