Microsoft executives say one of the lessons they've learned from Windows Vista is that notebook PCs have very different requirements than desktop PCs, and that adjustments reflecting this new understanding will be evident in Windows 7.
In a recent interview with Channelweb.com, Mike Nash, corporate vice president of Windows Product Management, said that in its development of Windows 7, Microsoft paid close attention to the transitions that notebooks go through between home and work usage, and how these transitions affected Vista notebook performance.
"We used to treat notebooks as desktops that fold up and have batteries, but after spending time looking at the fundamentals and foundation of Vista, and where processes are using more power, we've seen that notebooks are not the same," Nash said.
The knowledge gained from this scrutiny enabled Microsoft to improve shutdown and boot times and extend battery life in notebooks running Windows 7, according to Nash. For example, Microsoft found cases in which faulty drivers prevented Vista notebooks from entering a quiet state, which caused the notebook's battery to drain faster than normal. That won't be the case with Windows 7, Nash said.
Andrew Brust, chief of new technology at IT consultancy twentysix New York, says Vista has some notorious issues related to being suspended and resumed, as well as connectivity to projectors, managing Wi-Fi networks and power management.
But the early returns look good in terms of how Microsoft has dealt with these problems in the Windows 7 beta, Brust said. "It's looking like Microsoft has addressed all of these issues in Windows 7," he said.
Andy Kretzer, director of sales and marketing at system builder Bold Data Technology, has tested out the Windows 7 beta and was impressed by the faster startup and shutdown times. "[The Windows 7 beta] also appears to be smarter than Vista when moving between home, work and public hotspots," Kretzer added.
Driver incompatibility issues won't be as much of a problem in the future because Windows 7 uses the same driver model as Vista, Kretzer said. "By the time Windows 7 ships, there will have been roughly eight years of driver development, and that will be huge in terms of perception," he said.
Microsoft's focus on features and functions specific to notebooks shows the company no longer treats them as portable desktops, and that's a prime example of Microsoft listening to its partners, says Todd Swank, director of marketing at system builder Nor-Tech.
"People are going to look back at Windows 7 as an example of how the time and expense that Microsoft commits to usability can pay major dividends," Swank said.