With the pending release of the latest Microsoft Windows operating system, I like many other PC users have questions about the latest system currently known as Windows 7. I recently was able to speak with a Microsoft spokesperson for the new OS who took the time to provide us at Skewed and Reviewed with this interview.
GVK: What new enhancements does Windows 7 offer?
A: For consumers, Windows 7 breaks down walls and makes new things possible – we’ve made investments in user experience, multi-touch capabilities, media streaming and integration with devices that make it easier to find the information people care about regardless of where it’s housed on their PC, network, devices or on the cloud and do some cool new things.
For enterprises, Windows 7 provides greater control through advancements in branch office management, virtualization, and remote scenarios. By building Windows 7 on the Windows Vista foundation, we’ve also made sure deployments are easier for the customers taking advantage of the security and mobility improvements in Windows Vista today.
For developers, Windows 7 provides huge opportunities through investments in graphics, the Natural User Interface and multi-core architecture. The introductions of Windows Web Services mean opportunities for developers to use their existing skills with Visual Studio and the .NET framework to create differentiated, visually rich applications that work with local and web-based services.
GVK: How many versions will it ship in?
We are currently evaluating a variety of ways to meet the OS needs of our users. We aren’t ready to discuss the Windows 7 SKU plan at this time. We will share more information when we are further along the development path.
GVK: How large of an install is it?
Currently, Windows 7 Beta ranges from 2,500 to 3,500 MB (2.5 GB to 3.5 GB) dependent on the platform and language the user chooses to install.
GVK: What are the required and suggested system specs?
A: Microsoft is providing a Windows 7 Beta Minimum Hardware Recommendation. These recommendations are specific to the Beta release and are subject to change:
– 1 GHz, 32 bit or 64 bit processor
– 1GB system memory
– 16GB available disk space
– Support for DX9 graphics with 128 MB memory (in order to enable Aero theme)
– DVD-R/W Drive
– Internet Access
Some product features of Windows 7, such as the ability to watch and record live TV or navigate through the use of “touch”, may require advanced or additional hardware.
GVK: What enhancements to Direct X 10 will the OS offer?
Windows 7 will ship with support for DirectX11. DirectX 11 adds features onto the existing DirectX 10 (and 10.1) pipeline. Many of the features are intended to help developers have an easier and better cross-platform development experience between Windows PCs and Xbox 360. Additionally, they will make the API more expressive, allowing developers to better achieve their goals:
• Multithreaded resource handling: In a nutshell, this feature will enable graphics applications to better take advantage of multi-core machines.
• Tessellation: This feature shrinks the gap between (higher quality) offline content creation and (faster) real-time rendering. For example, a model far away can be rendered with low detail, but when seen up close, this same model can be refined to be smoother and more attractive.
• Improved texture compression: The first high dynamic range compressed hardware texture format is being introduced in DirectX 11, and a new higher-quality compression format for standard dynamic range textures is also being added, which will result in better looking textures and imagery.
• HLSL improvements: There are a variety of improvements we are making to the shader language including subroutines support and improved support for double precision floating-point computation. The benefit to these features is a more expressive, more flexible programming model that will allow ISV’s to better express their vision in code.
• Compute Shader: This is a forward-looking feature that lays the groundwork for the GPU to be used for more than just 3D graphics. Rather than just focusing on pixels and triangles, the compute shader is intended to take advantage of the graphics card as a parallel processor.
• Other features based on ISV feedback: We are also implementing a variety of other, smaller features based on ISV requests that will make our API more powerful and expressive, helping ISV’s better achieve their goals.
GVK: What kind of compatibility will gamers and software users have with games designed for the previous OS’s?
A: Consumers and businesses shopping for systems, software, and devices can be confident that Windows 7 “Compatible with for Windows 7”logo’d products work seamlessly on PCs running the Windows 7 operating system. All “Compatible with Windows 7”logo’d products have been through robust testing to ensure they meet strict standards to ensure they work seamlessly on Windows 7 to be compatible, stable and reliable.
A: First, we are laser-focused on making sure devices that work with Windows Vista work perfectly with Windows 7. Our motto is “no new hardware required.” That said, with over a billion customers served around the world, it’s a huge challenge to ensure that all hardware continues working perfectly. We’re working closely with hardware companies around the world to build compatibility tests and to notify hardware companies of compatibility problems. We’re making steady progress on our hardware compatibility goals and we’re confident that Windows 7 will work great with existing hardware.
A: For the most part, applications built on the .NET Framework 3.0 and above will run on Windows 7 and developers can easily leverage existing codebases to integrate new Windows 7 features. We are working with our partners and the community to provide then with resources and tools to help them determine whether or not applications will run on Windows 7. For example at the PDC we are hosting The Windows Application Compatibility and Quality lab which provides a private developer environment for testing and debugging application issues. Developers can bring in their applications to the lab where you’ll find dedicated consultants on hand to support you in investigating application compatibility and give architectural guidance.
GVK: How much support do you expect with drivers from hardware manufacturer at launch?
We’re working closely with hardware and software companies around the world to ensure compatibility with Windows 7. This work includes compatibility testing in our own labs and collaborative engineering with partners to find and fix compatibility problems. A lot of our work with the industry is ongoing as we improve the quality of devices and applications on Vista which in turn helps compatibility with Windows 7. We’re making steady progress on our compatibility goals and we’re confident that Windows 7 will work great with existing products.
GVK: What type of online functionality for gaming as well as web browsing?
Microsoft has believed for some time now that a combination of the rich functionality that comes with the Windows OS and consumers’ favorite services on the web provides the best Windows experience. This is why Microsoft offers Windows Live Essentials, which refers to the set of downloadable applications available from Windows Live, including Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Writer, Windows Live Photo Gallery and Windows Live Movie Maker.
Starting with the next release of Windows 7, the following services will no longer be available in the Windows operating system: Windows Mail, Windows Calendar, Windows Contacts, Windows Photo Gallery and Windows Movie Maker. This change only applies to future versions of Windows and does not impact Windows Vista or Windows XP. Similar functionality for email, contacts, calendar, photo and movie making will be available for free from Windows Live, removing the duplication of functionality for our consumers between Windows and Windows Live. These services are available in a single download via Windows Live Essentials, at download.live.com. These Windows Live tools will be regularly updated to provide innovative functionality and best-of-breed integration with other Windows Live and popular web services, while harnessing the power of the Windows PC.
Beyond this, Microsoft is extending the Windows platform to the cloud with an application model that spans client, server, devices and services. The Software + Services strategy envisions a world where experiences extend far beyond a single device – where the PCs, phones, cameras, game consoles, and video and music players people use are all seamlessly connected, through a continuum that spans from powerful client software to rich Internet services. The foundation of this strategy is Windows. It weaves these devices, applications and services together across the server, the PC, the mobile phone, and other devices people rely on every day – offering a seamless, unified experience for customers.
With Windows 7 + services, we’re creating the end-to-end experiences people choose as most important to them, encouraging the creation of new services for Windows, and allowing OEMs a great deal of flexibility to choose to configure PCs that are right for their customers.
GVK: What are the main upgrades from Vista and XP?
• With Windows 7, Microsoft is building on the substantial investments the company has made in the fundamentals through Windows Vista – improving security, reliability and performance while improving PC management and introducing compelling new experiences – and delivers an operating system that is more nimble and reliable, more secure, gets the most out of today’s powerful hardware, and easily connects with all the devices people use today.
• Windows 7 reflects an evolved approach to engineering the operating system that learns from the lessons of Windows Vista and previous versions of the operating system, weaving customer feedback more closely into the development process while enabling the delivery of innovative new features in a way that preserves compatibility and performance, so partners in the PC ecosystem can easily and quickly build on the new capabilities Windows has to offer. To ensure that late-breaking features do not disrupt the development process, the plan for the operating system was finalized up front, reflecting customer input and demand for end-to-end scenarios as well as deep (and early) engagement with the PC ecosystem to ensure stability and compatibility.