Microsoft launched the very latest version of its operating system - Windows 7 today. The most interesting thing is that people will have to perform a 'clean' installation in order to upgrade from Windows XP.
Apparently, the upgrade process is feasible from a Vista based PC but it didn't sound that easy. Of course, externally backing-up all your data and wiping the hard disk is something which most IT hacks can achieve. However, it did jar with Microsoft’s insistence that this release of its OS is very firmly targeted at the consumer.
The DSGi group which – as the parent of PC World, for example – has decided to jump on the scrappage bandwagon. It will offer up to £100 if you trade in an old PC. DSGi's Jeremy Fennell didn't say whether or not the PC/laptop actually had to be working, however.
Another astonishing admission from Mr Fennell was the fact that in three weeks of pre-orders, DSGi had sold more copies of Windows 7 than it had in twelve months of Vista sales. Definitive proof of Vista's unpopularity, if ever there was one.
In Windows 7's favour, the multi-touch version of the GUI does work well. It appears to be used primarily to showcase what Microsoft is calling 'Surface Globe'. This seems to be Microsoft’s answer to Google Maps although the company also offers Bing Maps.
Some of the features of 7 which Microsoft trumpets were bizarre. Location printing is one. This apparently prevents you printing a document on the office printer when you meant to send it to the printer at home. Gosh, how clever.
It's almost impossible to gauge Microsoft’s claims of improved battery life for 7 based netbooks. Duration times of 11 hours were mentioned. However. Windows 7 very definitely recovers from 'Sleep' mode much faster than previous versions of Windows.
Naturally Microsoft claims Windows 7 is more secure than its previous offerings – especially through the use of Internet Explorer 8. So it was rather amusing to find that of the 15 million users who gave feedback to Microsoft on the beta product, only eight million of them actually possessed an 'official' copy.
The jury is out on whether Windows 7 has done enough to ensure the company's vice like grip on the home PC OS, where the UK claims it has a 95 per cent share. Certainly, Microsoft is correct in believing that it has listened to its customers. Start-up times will drop considerably with version 7 although the 'instant-on' capability of EPOC (Symbian) based PDAs is still an experience which few will encounter.