Microsoft Shows Off Windows 7

Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president for Windows and the Windows Live Engineering Group, showed off a beta of the Windows 7 client and emphasized that even at this early, pre-beta stage, it's clear that Windows 7 represents an improvement in Microsoft's overall engineering cycle. Developers will get to see that for themselves later Tuesday when Microsoft gives them a pre-beta version of Windows 7 to take home.

Microsoft has worked to reduce the memory footprint of Windows 7 from that of core Vista installations, and has also cut the overhead of Desktop Window Manager, Sinofsky told PDC attendees, who immediately erupted in applause.

Microsoft has also "substantially reduced" disk I/O in Windows 7 that occurs when reading the registry, and overall has focused on boosting power saving, boot speed, and responsiveness, "making them respond as instantaneously as possible," according to Sinofsky. Windows 7 includes a range of user interface and home networking improvements aimed at smoothing over the rough patches users encountered in Vista.

One new Windows 7 feature called Device Stage displays all the capabilities of mobile devices, making it easier for users to synchronize and manage media between PCs and devices. Another feature, Jumplists, makes for simpler navigation by keeping track of recently access applications and Websites.

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Action Center acts as a central location for system messages and alerts, as opposed to the annoying pop-up windows that made User Account Control in Vista the bane of many users' existence.

In Windows 7, Microsoft has re-programmed all mouse commands with touch technology, adding support for a range of gestures and building an on screen keyboard with predictive text into the Windows interface, Sinofsky said.

Microsoft has also been working with the Office team to bring the Ribbon interface to a broader set of applications, according to Sinofsky.