Ballmer Lifts The Curtain On Windows 7

There's "a little extra secret sauce" in the making of Windows 7 that came about from intense collaboration between Microsoft engineers and its 50,000 partners in software, hardware, and peripherals, Ballmer told a crowd of about 300 buzzing attendees. Implicit in this message is that Microsoft perhaps didn't do these things well in Windows Vista, and it's the closest thing Ballmer came to a mea culpa for Vista in his hour-long address.

As he has been in other recent public appearances, Ballmer exuded the calm of a Buddhist monk as he talked about all the things Microsoft has done to ensure Windows 7's success. That's hardly surprising given how badly Microsoft got burned for overhyping Vista. This time around, the overarching message was about Windows 7's areas of improvement: faster startup and shutdown times, better organization with snap, shake and peek features, simplified home networking, and multi-touch, according to Ballmer.

Ballmer spoke of an internal Microsoft initiative known as the Wishing Well, a bulletin board for ideas that was set up in one of Microsoft's R&D buildings. "We collected a ton of customer feedback -- technical, emotional -- to bring alive in the physical world all of the information from the virtual world," said Ballmer. "From that you can get, from an end user perspective, literally hundreds of new features."

Ballmer also brought up Microsoft's "three screens and the cloud" vision for the future, which ties together PCs, televisions, and mobile devices and complements all three with cloud services. What Ballmer didn't say, but is becoming so obvious that it hardly needs repeating, is that Microsoft's mobile strategy is in deep trouble due to slow Windows Mobile development. Now that Windows 7 is out the door, Microsoft may shift more of its energies in this direction.

Sponsored post

Although PC market weakness has put a damper on Microsoft's Windows client business, Ballmer seemed confident that Windows 7, and the new hardware that's taking full advantage of it, will give PC sales a much needed shot in the arm.

Some 300 million PCs will be sold this year, noted Ballmer, adding that the key to Windows popularity is the diverse range of hardware and software that's available. "Paul Allen once saw a vision for a PC in every home, but today we can say there's a role for a PC in every room," Ballmer said.