Take a Sneak Peak at Your Next Operating System
By: Jerry Costas
If the rumors and leaks are true about the next Windows version, Microsoft has learned a lot from the Vista fiasco. Windows 7 is Microsoft’s name for Vista’s successor, and by all accounts it’s going to be swifter, smaller, and lighter than Vista. According to a lot of published stories and rumors based on leaked developer builds, the next windows operating system will be built around a more modular iteration of the core Vista kernel.
A modular kernel would lack a graphical user interface (GUI) but would have built-in networking, which means that Microsoft could build an OS with either an elaborate GUI for eye-candy addicts, or a minimal one for use on low-end computers and servers that couldn’t dream of running Vista. These are the kind of machines that now run Linux and are likely to be found in emerging world markets. Microsoft controls the corporate desktop, and has enterprise management tools that cannot be matched, but Linux made an end run around this market to take over the cheap hardware used everywhere else. Vista is just too big and clumsy to be able to catch up. Windows 7 is designed to be swift where it needs to be swift, but even more feature packed than Vista on higher-end systems built for the enterprise or entertainment.
Microsoft has not said much officially about Windows 7. Bill Gates recently said during a recent speech in Japan to the Windows Digital Media Lifestyle Consortium that it would be "lower power, take less memory, be more efficient, and have lots more connections up to the mobile phone." He also said, "If you have two personal computers, your files will be automatically synchronized between them, so you won’t have a lot of work to move that data back and forth." The rest of what we know comes partly from leaks by developers, and partly from interpretations of job listings at Microsoft.
To compound the confusion, we don’t know when Windows 7 will be launched. The dates being discussed range from early 2009 (highly unlikely) to 2010 (possible). The is a slightly desperate undertone to Microsoft’s remarks about Windows 7, which suggests that the company wants to forget Vista as soon as possible, so you can expect the company to move full speed ahead toward shipping Windows 7. When talking about the five year gap between XP and Vista, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told a group that "We can’t ever let that happen again." But whether this gigantic and now slow turning company can morph into a quick mover is an open question.
To see why it is called Windows 7, open a command prompt in your current version of windows and enter the command VER. Under XP SP3, the version number displayed is 5.1.2600. Under Vista SP1, it’s 6.0.6001. Wonder what the first digit is when you run VER in Windows 7’s command prompt?
No one knows exactly what the Windows 7 desktop will look like, partly because Microsoft always adds and removes features right up to the release. We know for sure that Internet Explorer 8 will certainly be included. There are some hints as to what else we will see, and more are emerging all the time.
First, there will likely be some new, unspecified integration with the Internet "cloud." Windows 7 will have connections built in with something like Microsoft’s "Live Mesh," a web-based system for sharing and synchronizing folders, syncing mobile devices with your PC, and learning the online status of your friends. Live Mesh will be available long before Windows 7 is released, but Windows 7 will apparently include syncing features unavailable elsewhere. Of course, Apple’s OS X is already packed with comparable collaboration and sharing features. Microsoft will try to catch up with Windows 7.
Next, you’ll probably find automated backup, Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Time Machine. This appears obvious from a leaked screen shot of the new Windows Health Center applet, but adds an item labeled "Data, Files, Photo, and Music" that indicates whether or not Windows Backup has successfully backed up these files.
We also anticipate a new networking setup called HomeGroup, designed for easy sharing of videos, pictures, documents, music, and printers. This is another area where Apple is far ahead- so much that I used Apple’s Bonjour for Windows rather than Windows networking to setup printers on my Windows based home network. Whether HomeGroup networking will work with existing hardware, as Apple’s Bonjour does, is still unknown.
One point Bill Gates emphasized in talking about Windows 7 is its connectivity with cell phones. Gates was not specific, but he pinted toward improved file synchronization plus new fromrs of application sharing and game sharing. One issue he didn’t talk about was the scary securing nightmare that might result from integration with your wide-open cell phone. The worst-cast scenario goes like this: Someone behind you slips code into your phone via Bluetooth, then that injects itself into your Windows 7 computer. There hasn’t been a successful cell phone virus to date, but closer integration with desktops would open up new possibilities to hackers.
What Microsoft wants to give you with Windows 7 is a lean, sleek operating system that will stop you from defecting to OS X or Linux. Of course, it may end up giving us another unfriendly, bloated operating system that continues the downward spiral begun by Vista, but let’s hope not!
About Author: Jerry Costas is a writer for UpgradeComputerMemory.com and has over 20 years of experience in the computer memory industry. UpgradeComputerMemory.com is a leading provider of Computer Memory.
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