Windows 7 Beta Release Date

It seems that Microsoft are pointing us towards a January 2009 release date for the Windows 7 beta, rather than December 2008 as originally thought.

**Update-it seems we have dates for when the beta will be available here.

According to the Register, MS have updated their sites to show that event attendees won’t receive a physical copy of the  beta in their hands until an event on 13/01/09. If you’re at an event before then, you will get teh beta DVD mailed to you later.

Despite this, ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley thinks we could be on for a December 17th release..who will be proved right? I’m very excited about getting my hands on a proper beta of Windows 7 so the sooner the better I say!

**Update** Yesterday (16/12/08) Microsoft sent invitations to select “beta tech testers” giving them early access to Windows 7 Beta 1. The note from MS contained the line “While (the Windows 7) beta will not be available until early 2009…” so a general release date in January is nearly confirmed.

Windows 7 at WinHec Conference

This week saw another Microsoft conference, this time WinHEC (Windows Hardware Engineering Conference) and, as at the PDC, Windows 7 has featured heavily. So too has Windows Server 2008 R2 and it appears Windows 7 and Win Svr 2008 R2 are going to be released on the same day, according to Mary Jo Foley.

New features will include:

  • Direct Access support, eliminating the need for VPN connections for secure communications
  • Branch-office caching (hosted server caching)
  • Version 2.0 PowerShell and Hyper-V releases
  • Support for .Net and PowerShell in the Server Core role
  • Live migration support within Hyper-V
  • Terminal Services gets repositioned and renamed as Remote Desktop Services
  • The inclusion of Hyper-V R2 with it’s Live Migration feature is a huge thing, really putting Microsoft’s Virtualization offering on a par with it’s biggest rival, VMWare.

    Windows Server 2008 R2 is going to bring a whole host of great features into the business world, to make businesses more efficient, cost effective and streamlined. Once that is coupled with Windows 7, I think Microsoft will again have really changed the game…so many things for so many people are going to be so much better!

    Windows 7 Application Compatibility

    Windows 7 Application Compatibility is a hot topic and will only get hotter as the next MS Operating System gets ever closer. Will there be the same issues as with Pre-SP1 Vista?

    Microsoft have stated that the vast majority of apps that currently work on Vista will work with Windows 7 too, however it won’t (and couldn’t be expected to be) 100%. It an effort to head off any potential problems at the pass Microsoft have released the “Windows Application Quality Cookbook” which contains a list of the aspects most likely to cause problems for developers.

    These are:

  • Internet Explorer 8—User Agent String
  • Internet Explorer 8—Data Execution Protection/NX
  • Removal of Windows Mail
  • Microsoft Message Queuing (MSMQ)—Removal of Windows 2000 Client Support Service
  • Compatibility — Operating System Versioning
  • Server Core — WoW64 Is Now an Optional Feature
  • User Interface—Enhanced Taskbar
  • Microsoft Message Queuing (MSMQ)—Improved Queue Handling
  • Windows Server — Terminal Services
  • User Interface — High DPI Awareness
  • Removal of WPDUSB.SYS Driver for Windows Portable Devices
  • Server — Hyper-V
  • Server — 64-Bit Only
  • File Library Replaces Document Folder
  • New Binaries—Refactoring
  • Compatibility—Application Manifest
  • Microsoft Message Queuing (MSMQ)—SHA-2 Is the Default Encryption Algorithm
  • User Interface—User Access Control Dialog Updates
  • I got this from Mary Jo Foley over at All About Microsoft.

    PDC 2008 Wrap Up

    I think we can all agree that the PDC 2008 was pretty special. Azure, Windows 7, Office Web, Azure Services, Live Mesh..the list goes on. The sheer amount of information given out at these conferences often means that we miss bits that are interesting and/or pertinent to our jobs & lives (this was certainly the case when I was at the WPC in Houston!).

    Fear not, as Mike Swanson over at MSDN Blogs has put together a wonderful collection of all the Keynotes and sessions, and where possible he’s included the Powerpoints and sample code!

    Some of the sessions I’m glad to see are below. The main links go to the video on Channel9, the Powerpoint link will download the .pptx presentation.

    A lap around the Azure Services Platform (Powerpoint)

    Microsoft Office Communications Server & Exchange: Platform Futures (Powerpoint)

    Office Communications Server R2: Enabling Unified Communications (Powerpoint)

    Microsoft Silverlight 2 for Mobile: Developing for Mobile Devices (Powerpoint)

    The whole, wonderful list can be found here. There are countless sessions on SQL, Azure, .NET, Windows 7 and more!

    I really want to give a big thank you to Mike for doing this..there are sooo many sessions on there I didn’t know about that are really interesting and useful!

    Free Windows Mobile 7 phones..

    Free Windows Mobile 7 phones look set to be available from Carphone Warehouse (CW), when you buy a copy of Windows 7 for the PC.

    As CW open their electronic stores in conjunction with Best Buy next year, it looks like this will be a big promo for them.

    This could be a really successful offer as it rewards those who are loyal to Microsoft and also entices those who might be sitting on the fence as to one or both of the upcoming Operating Systems.

    More info can be found over at the Register.

    Windows 7 Features Announced

    A number of Windows 7 features have been announced today (28/10/08) at the Microsoft PDC 2008. The vast majority of the features we saw today were for the consumer but fear not, Microsoft promise there are numerous Enterprise related additions too! These include:

    • Federated Search: Deliver a consistent experience finding file across PCs, networks, and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server systems.
    • DirectAccess: To link users to corporate resources from the road without a virtual private network.
    • BranchCache: To make it faster to open files and Web pages from a branch office.
    • Bitlocker ToGo: Data protection for removable devices.
    • Refined Universal Access Control: To give fewer prompts for users and more flexibility for IT.
    • PowerShell and group policy management.
    • Client virtualization: With virtual desktop infrastructure enhancements, to improve memory utilization and user experience.
    • Device Center: To provide a single place to access all connected and wireless devices with Device Stage, to see status and run common tasks from a single window.
    • HomeGroup: To make it easier to share media, documents, and printers across multiple PCs in offices without a domain.

    Direct Access:

    “DirectAccess in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 enhances the productivity of mobile workers by connecting them seamlessly and more securely to their corporate network any time they have Internet access—without the need to VPN.”

    Anything that means we don’t need to use VPN’s is brilliant! I find they rarely work as well as end users need them to and they can make a System Admin’s life difficult, so removing VPN’s could be enough to make the detractors forget all about Vista!

    “With DirectAccess, IT administrators can manage mobile computers by updating Group Policy settings and distributing software updates any time the mobile computer has Internet connectivity, even if the user is not logged on.”

    “To keep data safer as it travels public networks, DirectAccess uses IPv6-over-IPsec to encrypt communications transmitted across the Internet. DirectAccess can use split-tunnel routing, which reduces unnecessary traffic on the corporate network by sending only traffic destined for the corporate network through the DirectAccess server (running Windows Server 2008 R2)…”

    Bitlocker To Go:

    With all the lost data flying around these days, BitLocker To Go extends the proven BitLocker technology to removable USB devices, securing them with a passphrase. “In addition to having control over passphrase length and complexity, IT administrators can require users to apply BitLocker protection to removable drives before being able to write to them”.

    Administrators can still allow unsecured USB devices to be used in a Read-Only mode and policies are also available to require appropriate passwords, smart card, or domain user credentials to utilize a protected removable storage device.

    A related addition is AppLocker which is “a flexible, easy-to-use mechanism that enables IT professionals to specify exactly what is allowed to run on user desktops.” It uses “publisher rules” that are based on digital signatures so, with correctly structured rules, you can deploy updates etc without having to create new rules.

    Virtualization Enhancements

    Virtual Desktop Infrastructire (VDI) in Windows 7 is closer to the experience of a local PC now with support for Aero, video viewing in Media Player 11 and multiple monitor configurations. New microphone support enables remote desktops running WIndows 7 Enterprise to provide VOIP & speech recognition functionality. Last, but by no means least, is Easy Print which allows users to print to local printers without installing drivers on the server.

    You can see more info on the Microsoft site here.

    The guys over at ActiveWin have got a great, in-depth review of the Windows 7, M3 Preview which contains any number of screenshots and a whole host of info. Some of the bits that caught my eye were:

    Location Aware Printing:

    In Windows 7, you no longer need to select the printer to match your location. When you change network locations, such as taking your work laptop home for the evening, the default printer setting can change to reflect the best printer for that new location. When you print at work, Windows 7 will print to your work printer. When you print at home, Windows 7 will automatically select and use your home printer.

    Media Player 12 will ship with Windows 7 and according to ActiveWin: “this new version features radical changes to its menu structure, with some menus positioned on the left and right sides of the interface…and features two thick toolbars of controls, the second one focusing on traditional features such as Organization, Sharing, Playlist and Search…Common media formats supported include WMV, WMA, MPEG-4, AAC and AVC/H.264.”

    Ultra Wideband (UWB) and Wireless USB (WUSB):

    UWB and WUSB are new technologies that provide wireless alternatives to USB cables. Support for UWB and WUSB in Windows 7 lets you take advantage of new wireless devices and wireless USB hubs.

    Libraries also seem like a really cool multimedia feature. I’m forever duplicating files as I can’t find where I saved them, creating numerous folders in different places all with the same names and finally just keeping stuff on my desktop so I don’t lose it. None of this leads to a brilliant user experience at home or at work and this is where Windows 7 libraries come in.

    With Libraries, you can not only organize, but view and manage files that that are stored in more than once place. This reduces the need to view files even when they are stored in different folders. Libraries are so powerful that they even span different disk drives and/or PCs on your home network. There are a range of options for organizing and browsing, by type, date taken or genre depending on the file type.”

    On top of this, there is the already well known addition of touch and multi touch capabilities to Windows 7. If you’ve got a touchscreen monitor, or more likely a Tablet PC, you can open things from the Start Menu etc by pressing them. MultiTouch will let you zoom in and out on images by moving 2 fingers together/apart as needed and more..

    Another new feature of Windows 7 will be the ability to re-order applications on the taskbar…I think this is awesome! This is one of those little things that has annoyed me for years and will finally be gone. I have a certain order that I like my applications to be in and I always have Outlook as the first program. However at the minute if I have to re-start Outlook it ends up buried on my Taskbar between to IE windows or something..and then it takes me a little while each time I need to go back Outlook.

    I’ve asked around the office and this addition is met with unanimous approval!

    Something else I’ve just seen on is that you can schedule desktop background changes with WIndows 7, I think that’s quite a neat touch!

    Over at ZDNet, Ed Bott has got a great gallery of Windows 7 Screenshots which you can find here. Below is a shot of the desktop which shows another new feature, that gadgets are no longer confined to that bar on the right hand they can reside anywhere on the desktop 🙂

    Windows 7 Desktop
    Windows 7 Desktop


    Windows 7 Pre-Beta Features

    The Windows 7 Pre-Beta Build will be available to PDC 2008 attendees from Tuesday 28th of October (tomorrow) but Mary Jo Foley over at ZDNet has got some info on what features we can expect to see:

    Device Stage – a central location for customers to more easily interact with devices, ranging from printers, cameras, cell phones, media players, etc. Device Stage will only recognize “Device-Stage-enabled” peripherals.

    Action Center – a self-diagnosis feature to help users troubleshoot problems with their Windows 7 systems

    A new Animation Framework for customizing animations

    New Task Bar & Shell Integration

    Multi-Touch & Gesture Recognition

    There isn’t much more info on these features as of yet so roll on tomorrow!!

    %d bloggers like this: