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The IT industry already knows what Windows 7 will cost and the various flavors Microsoft plans to dish up. All that's left is for Microsoft to release Windows 7 to manufacturing, and several sources are predicting that will happen July 13, the opening day of Microsoft's annual Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans.
For Microsoft partners, Windows 7's arrival couldn't come soon enough. Even fervent Microsoft Kool-Aid drinkers admit that Windows Vista was a disaster, and the result has been a surprisingly large swath of customers that are still using Windows XP, a wobbly geezer of an OS that's nearly eight years old and is increasingly ill-equipped for the challenges of modern computing.
All of this pent-up demand for Windows 7 represents a lucrative opportunity for Microsoft channel partners that have experience in handling OS migrations. And the fact that Windows 7 development has been a breeze compared to Vista has convinced many partners that Microsoft has learned from its Vista mistakes.
"Windows 7 will help everyone put Vista -- and XP -- behind them," said Andrew Brust, chief of new technology at New York-based IT consultancy twentysix New York. "Windows 7 is a great operating system, but more importantly, the Windows 7 team is well-run and dedicated to stability, compatibility and organization. That's a marked departure from what I observed of the Vista team."
Windows 7 is designed to work on multiple PC form factors, including netbooks, and Microsoft has expended considerable effort on getting third-party device vendors involved at an early stage in order to ensure compatibility with Windows 7. That's a contrast to Vista's hefty hardware requirements and spotty device support, which helped to cement its reputation in the channel as a bloated OS that only ran as advertised on higher end hardware.
"This is the first time in Microsoft history that customers can upgrade confidently to a new version of Windows on existing PC hardware," said Allison Watson, vice president of worldwide channels at Microsoft, in a recent interview.
Vista's well-publicized delays and compatibility problems were the result of Microsoft's adding and changing many features in the course of development. With Windows 7, Microsoft's goal was to keep the scope of the operating system within reason and not get carried away with excessive alterations and additions.
With Windows 7, "We wanted to make sure that our eyes were aligned with our stomach," Mike Nash, corporate vice president of Windows product management, told Channelweb.com in April.