Technologizer posts about Microsoft Windows 7

Ocosmos Intros Tiny Windows 7 Computer for Gaming and Work

By  |  Posted at 8:56 am on Sunday, January 9, 2011

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In the ever-expanding world of unconventional computers, Ocosmos has just rolled out new five- and seven-inch Windows 7-based tablets geared to folks who want to combine serious gaming for fun with their day jobs.

The Tiny Computer (TC) OCS1 is targeted at “heavy-duty gamers,” and the larger OCS9 tablet at “lighter gamers,” Ocosmos staffers said during the ShowStoppers press event at CES.

Despite their small sizes, both gadgets are  full-featured PCs, amenable to running a built-in office suite and other work apps along with games. For gaming control, though, they also feature Ocosmos’ Omos interface.

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HP Windows 7 Slate: It’s Alive?

By  |  Posted at 1:07 pm on Tuesday, July 13, 2010


HP still hasn’t said boo about its slate plans since the company acquired Palm, and Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer didn’t mention HP during his Worldwide Partners Conference keynote this week, when talking about Windows 7 slate PCs.

So why was HP listed as one of many companies releasing Windows 7 slates this year?

The image here was screengrabbed from the live feed of Ballmer’s keynote, and tipped to Engadget over Twitter. Microsoft doesn’t have the recordings of its keynotes online yet, so I can’t validate this myself. If it’s accurate — and not just an oversight by whoever put together Ballmer’s keynote slides — it opens up a couple possibilities:

On one hand, perhaps the HP Windows slate is not dead, as rumored and generally suspected due to HP’s silence on the matter. Maybe HP just went back to the drawing board after seeing what the iPad could do, or put the Windows 7 slate on the backburner to fast-track a WebOS tablet.

On the other hand, the images above Microsoft’s list of partners includes a swiveling tablet with a keyboard. HP has already built one of those, running Windows 7, the Touchsmart tm2. I wouldn’t be shocked if HP updated that laptop in the fall, and Microsoft called it a slate for the sake of promoting Windows 7′s touch-friendliness.

In any case, with more than 20 companies building Windows 7 slates this year, debating the mortality of an HP entrant is moot. The idea was novel when HP was the only major company openly talking about an iPad competitor, but that’s hardly the case anymore. I’d be more interested to hear about a WebOS tablet at this point; at least it’ll stand out from the crowd.

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Windows 7 on a Thumb Drive?

By  |  Posted at 10:33 am on Friday, June 26, 2009


Windows 7 Thumb DriveNetbooks, pretty much by definition, don’t have optical drives. Microsoft is talking up Windows 7 as a great OS for netbooks. Retail versions of Windows, like almost all software, come on optical discs. Problem!

Over at Cnet, Ina Fried is reporting that Microsoft is contemplating the possibility of shipping a version of Windows 7 on a thumb drive. It makes perfect sense if the company hopes to sell upgrades for a meaningful percentage of all those netbooks out there running Windows XP. (Windows 7 will presumably be available as a download–that’s the primary means of distribution for the Release Candidate–but not everyone is going to want to download an entire operating system. And if you spend $100 or more on a piece of software, it’s comforting to have it in physical form.)

USB drives may have gotten remarkably cheap, but they’re still costlier than a DVD disc–even bought in the volume that Microsoft would need them. But Corel sells its new Home Office–a $70 office suite aimed at netbook users–on a thumb drive, so it appears to be economically feasible. (Years ago, Corel was also one of the first companies to distribute software on CD-ROM rather than ludicrously tall stacks of floppy disks–maybe it’s once again figured out the future of software distribution before most of the rest of the world.)

I’m convinced that within two or three years, optical drives of any sort will be the exception, not the rule–even on the nicest notebooks. We’ll do our watching of movies and backing up of data using wireless connectivity and the Internet. We’ll also get our software the same way. (Prediction: At some point stores like Best Buy and Staples will simply do away with their software sections, and it’ll probably happen sooner than you might think.)

For now, though, people still buy plenty of software in stores. I’m betting that there will indeed be a version of Windows 7 delivered on a thumb drive, and that there’s a good chance most software that’s available in physical form at all will be sold on flash devices before too long.

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Microsoft Chops Some Windows 7 Prices

By  |  Posted at 8:48 am on Thursday, June 25, 2009


Windows 7 LogoMicrosoft has dropped one of the lat  remaining veils relating to Windows 7 by announcing the OS upgrade’s pricing.  It’s not exactly stunning that the company chose not to follow Gizmodo’s advice that Win 7 should be free for all Vista owners. But there are a number of price breaks associated with the rollout.

The largest and most interesting price cut is for folks who preorder Windows 7 right away: In the U.S,  you’ll be able to reserve a copy from Best Buy, Amazon, or the Microsoft Store at a discount of more than 50 percent. This preorder price for the upgrade version of Windows 7 Home Premium, for instance, will be $49.99, versus a list price of $119.99.

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Windows 7 $tarter Edition?

I’m not an expert on how to price operating systems for maximum sales and profit. Microsoft is. So I hesitate to jump in here, but a DigiTimes story (as covered by Ars Technica) is suggesting that Microsoft may want about twice as much money from PC manufacturers to put Windows 7 Starter Edition on a netbook as it currently charges for Windows XP. Says Ars:

This translates to at least a $50 increase in price if netbook makers want to offer Windows 7 as opposed to Windows XP. That typically isn’t a big deal, but for netbooks, $50 is a very big difference, so it’s no wonder OEMs are still trying to negotiate with Microsoft. Most laptops currently offer Windows Vista, which should have a much smoother price change going to Windows 7.

Regardless of Windows 7 Starter’s pricetag, the whole boom in under $400 netbooks presents Microsoft with one of its biggest challenges ever. There simply isn’t enough profit built into netbook prices for it to charge PC manufacturers what it’s used to getting for a copy of Windows. So far, it’s managed to keep Linux from getting much of a toehold by selling Windows XP for cheap. But the situation presents the best opportunity for alternative operating systems that’s come along in a long time, and as contenders from Android to Jolicloud jump into the netbook market, it’ll be fascinating to see if they catch on…and how Microsoft responds.

Posted by Harry McCracken at 10:25 am


One Windows 7, Indivisible?

By  |  Posted at 8:54 am on Friday, June 12, 2009


Windows 7 LogoOver at ZDNet, my friend Jason Hiner has published an open letter to Microsoft, arguing that it’s not too late for Microsoft to scrap the six planned editions of Windows 7 and release the new OS in only one version. I admire Jason’s bold Hail Mary, but it’s presumably way too late for his scenario. Presumably Microsoft considered streamlining the Windows 7 lineup long ago–it caught plenty of flack over all the Vista variants–and made a willful decision to err on the side of more versions rather than fewer. If it hasn’t gone with a game plan like Jason’s by now, it’s just not in its DNA to do so.

I like Jason’s proposal that customization of Windows 7 for different types of users be done through feature packs rather than different versions of the OS. But I suspect that Microsoft is now deeply invested in the philosophy of offering different versions of its OS that it can sell at different price points to PC manufacturers who sell everything from $300 netbooks to $3000 luxury PCs. (Apple can sell OS X in just one version in part because it’s its own customer for OSes and doesn’t have to try and make everybody happy.)

The main problem with all those versions of Windows 7 isn’t that multiple versions of a product is inherently problematic. (Choice is good, no?) It’s that the differences between the Windows variants are subtle and hard to remember. At least it’s not yet as nightmarishly complicated as trying to decide which version of Crest toothpaste to buy.

Microsoft got this right with Windows XP, which came in two reasonably easy-to-distinguish variants: Home and Pro. And in the era of the really cheap PC, I think the company does need a really cheap version of Windows, so Windows 7 Starter Edition makes sense, too. If Microsoft were to offer three versions of Windows–plus an enterprise pack for corporate users–it would offer both choice and clarity. But I suspect we’ll have to wait until Windows 8 before there’s any chance of the Windows lineup getting simpler. And even then, it seems equally likely that it’ll get more complex.

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Europe Gives Internet Explorer the Boot from Windows 7. Big Deal!

By  |  Posted at 3:10 pm on Thursday, June 11, 2009


Internet Explorer Gets the BootLooks like any lingering question about the European Union’s antitrust case against Microsoft delaying the release of Windows 7 just ended. Earlier today, Cnet’s Ina Fried reported that Microsoft will release versions of the new OS that are sans Internet Explorer for sale in Europe. Microsoft has confirmed its intentions.

The Europe-only versions of Windows 7 will have an “E” appended to their names (such as “Windows 7 Home Premium E), and their existence apparently eliminates concerns that Microsoft is competing unfairly with Mozilla, Opera, and other browser makers by bundling IE with the world’s dominant operating system. European consumers and businesses will be free to download IE or any other browser, of course. And Microsoft says that PC manufacturers will be able to bundle IE if they so choose, in which case the end result will still be a computer with Windows 7 and IE 8 installed.

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Memo Reveals Windows 7 Upgrade Details

By  |  Posted at 6:48 pm on Friday, June 5, 2009


Best Buy customers who purchase PCs preloaded with Windows Vista between June 26 and Oct. 22 will receive free upgrades to Windows 7, according to a company memo obtained by Engadget.

Further, Best Buy will begin taking pre-orders on Jun. 26 for paid upgrades, according to the memo. Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade copies will cost $49.95, and Windows 7 Professional Upgrade copies will sell for $99.99. No details have been released about what full installs will cost.

“This new operating system isn’t just a “Vista that works” program–it’s a new operating system with improved productivity, functionality and creativity that uses less computer resources,” the memo read.

Windows 7 will be generally available on October 22 if European anti trust regulators do not find something objectionable in the final release. However, as first reported by Technologizer, Microsoft has a contingency plan to ship in January should it face legal scrutiny.

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Windows 7: Coming to a PC Near You on October 22nd

By  |  Posted at 11:45 am on Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Windows 7 LogoBack on May 11th, Microsoft confirmed what was already pretty obvious: Windows 7 would ship for the 2009 holiday season. Today, it got specific and said that the OS would show up on new PCs and in retail upgrade boxes on October 22nd. That’s a little later than some predictions–just yesterday I was telling someone that I thought it would arrive in time for the full back-to-school season–but it’s cheery news for a PC industry that’s presumably already worrying about the holiday sales period and looking for incentives it can give consumers to buy, buy, buy.

It’s also a positive development for consumers, since there’s plenty of evidence that a Windows 7 machine will be more pleasing than the same hardware loaded with Windows Vista (or for that matter, Windows XP).

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Maybe They Should Call It “Windows 7 Grudging Acknowledgment of Reality Edition”

By  |  Posted at 9:07 am on Saturday, May 30, 2009


Windows 7 LogoPaul Thurrott had it right: Microsoft has decided to lift the three-apps-at-a-time limitation from Windows 7 Starter Edition, the low-cost, low-end version of the OS which will likely show up on a lot of netbooks beginning this fall.

The company announced the change in plans at the Windows 7 Team Blog, in a post that also detailed remaining limitations of Starter Edition, among them its lack of Aero effects, custom wallpaper (!),  Taskbar previews, Fast User Switching, Media Center features, and DVD playback. It also tries to dissuade folks from associating Starter Edition and netbooks too closely:

As we continue to say since we announced the Windows 7 editions in February, all editions of Windows 7 have been optimized to run on the broadest range of hardware ranging from small notebook PCs all the way up to high end gaming machines. Windows 7 Starter should not be considered “the netbook SKU” as most machines in this category can run any edition of Windows 7. Many of our beta users have installed Windows 7 Ultimate on their small notebook PCs and have given us very positive feedback on their experience.

The post’s right that netbooks can run beefier versions of Windows 7–actually, I’m typing these very words on an Asus Eee PC 1000HE that’s working just fine with Windows 7 Ultimate. But  it remains to be seen just  how many netbooks will ship with anything other other than Starter given the price competition in the category (which is fierce) and the additional cost to bundle higher-end versions of Windows (which will be substantial). Starter Edition exists only because Microsoft would otherwise have to cede the low-end netbook market to Linux; it’s a version of Windows that Microsoft is releasing only because it doesn’t have much choice.

So if you’re thinking about buying a Windows 7 netbook, would you opt for Starter, or would you be willing to pay extra bucks for Windows 7 Home Premium or another more full-featured edition?

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More on Windows 7 and Netbooks

By  |  Posted at 12:29 pm on Friday, May 22, 2009


Windows 7 LogoMicrosoft is still wrestling with the question of how to get Windows 7 onto dirt-cheap netbooks without crushing the profit margin it makes when it sells copies of Windows to PC manufacturers. Two pieces of scuttlebutt emerged today; one sounds promising for netbook buyers, and the other is kind of discouraging.

Promising scuttlebutt: Paul Thurrott is reportingvery briefly–that Microsoft has decided to lift the three-applications-at-a-time restriction from Windows 7 Starter Edition, the version of the OS that it expects to be popular on netbooks. While there were numerous exceptions to the limit, it’ll still be good news if it’s gone–as long as Microsoft doesn’t compensate by hobbling Starter Edition in some other way.

Discouraging scuttlebutt: A site called Tech ARM has what it says is a list of limitations that Microsoft will apply to machines that qualify to come with Windows 7 Starter Edition preinstalled. They’re tighter in some places than the similar restrictions for Windows XP, and laxer in others–but the one that sticks in my craw is the continuing requirement that netbooks ship with a maximum of 1GB of RAM. RAM’s cheap enough these days that there would surely be 2GB netbooks if Microsoft didn’t try to prevent them from shipping. And I know from my experience with my own Asus EeePC 1000HE that it’s a markedly more pleasing computer with the 2GB upgrade that I installed than it would have been with half the RAM.

There’s something basically unsettling about a software provider putting rules in place to discourage PC manufacturers from selling well-equipped PCs–especially when said software provider has a big ad campaign going that’s centered around specsmanship. I hope that the rumors are wrong–or if they’re right, that Microsoft takes yet another pass at figuring out how to put Windows on netbooks in a way that makes sense.

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It’s Official: Windows 7 For the Holidays

By  |  Posted at 10:38 am on Monday, May 11, 2009


At this point, anything else would have been a heckuva surprise, but now it’s formal: At its Tech Ed conference today, Microsoft announced that it plans to ship Windows 7 (and Windows Server 2008 R2) in time for the holidays. Until now, the company had just been saying that it planned to get Win 7 out within three years of Vista’s release, which could have left it arriving in early 2010.

I’m not at Tech Ed, but Microsoft’s press release doesn’t seem to define what it means by the holiday season. The company is presumably confident that it can get Windows 7 onto new PCs and into stores by late November. But with the Windows 7 Release Candidate seemingly in good shape and no further major pre-release versions planned, you don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to speculate that Microsoft really thinks it can get the OS out in time for students heading off to college this fall to buy Windows 7 laptops, and that it’s saving that news to spring on us later.

If Windows 7 does indeed ship months before Microsoft’s self-imposed deadline, it’ll be good news–assuming, of course, that the version that ships is robust, and well-supported by applications and devices. It’s going to feel odd being deprived of one of the tech world’s most reliable guffaws, though: the notion that Windows. Always. Ships. Late.

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Windows 7 Release Candidate: It’s Buggy!

By  |  Posted at 11:37 am on Friday, May 8, 2009

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Actually, it’s been running quite well on my test machines for a pre-release operating system, but I have encountered a couple of instances in which it seemed to be fussy about what folder I installed an application into. Now it’s looking like I may have run into a major bug. Ed Bott has the news:

Yesterday, Microsoft published Knowledge Base article 970789, which provides details of a problem that affects the 32-bit (x86) English-language version of Windows 7 build 7100. The problem, in short, is that the installer incorrectly sets access control lists (ACLs) on the root of the system drive.

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Microsoft Releases a Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor

By  |  Posted at 11:27 am on Friday, May 8, 2009

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If you’re contemplating trying out the Windows 7 Release Candidate but are worried about system requirements and compatibility issues, check out the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor that Microsoft released in beta form today. It scans Windows XP and Windows Vista machines and responds with a report about whether their system specs are up to running Windows 7, along with whether any drivers or applications are likely to cause trouble. It also alerts Windows XP users to the fact that they can’t install 7 on top of XP and will have to do a fresh install.

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Windows Genuine Advantage: A Lousy Microsoft Name No More!

By  |  Posted at 8:34 am on Thursday, May 7, 2009


Back, in March, I wrote an article for PC World on the worst Microsoft product names of all time. One of my nominees was Windows Genuine Advantage, the anti-piracy technology that’s suffered at least a couple of major breakdowns that caused woes for paying customers. I wondered what exactly was advantageous about it for anyone but Microsoft, and groused that it was a patronizing moniker. And I suggested that Microsoft change the name to “Windows Anti-Piracy Technology.”

Over at Cnet, Ina Fried is reporting that Microsoft is dumping “Windows Genuine Advantage” for a name that’s close to my recommendation: Windows Activation Technologies. And it’s making activation slightly less annoying:

In Windows Vista, if a user does not activate their software immediately, they get a warning that they still need to do so. The dialog box offers two options, to activate immediately or to do so later. However, the activate later box cannot be checked for 15 seconds.

Microsoft decided this was a bit too annoying. With Windows 7, users can click activate later immediately, but then get a dialog box touting the benefits of activation.

I suspect I haven’t squawked about Windows’ copy protection for the last time. But to be fair to Microsoft, most of the changes it’s made to activation in the last couple of years have been to make it less annoying, and it’s suffered no recent meltdowns. And at least I won’t feel like my intelligence is being insulted every time I hear its name.

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