Making everyday tasks simpler and easier is the promise Microsoft has made as it previews its Windows 7 forthcoming operating system (OS). It has also revealed lightweight versions of its Office family will be released to the web as apps.
At the Professional Developers Conference in LA today, Microsoft’s software architect Ray Ozzie previewed the beta version of the new OS, and released a pre-beta build version to developers at the conference.
Microsoft also demonstrated its new web applications for Office – lightweight versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote that are used from within standard browsers.
The company showed how anyone can use all of the web, phone and PC versions of Office to edit the same rich document, switching among them seamlessly. This new offering will be compatible with familiar web browsers like Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari.
“We are bringing the best of the web to Windows, and the best of Windows to the web,” said Ozzie.
“From PC to the web to the phone, and from the server to cloud, we are focused on enabling the creation of the next generation of user experiences that change the way we live, work and play.”
The company said that Windows 7 is designed to make everyday online tasks easier and faster, and described its creation as an “evolved approach to engineering”, incorporating customer and partner feedback into the development process.
Windows 7 is designed to be compatible with the same hardware, applications and device drivers as Windows Vista. New features will help protect privacy and data, make it easier to keep a PC running smoothly, and enable quicker recovery from problems.
The new OS will also feature improved navigation, a new taskbar and a streamlined user interface to put commonly used resources within easy reach. Sharing data across all PCs and devices will be easier at home, in the office or on the go. Windows 7 and Windows Live will also help users stay connected and Internet Explorer 8 will offer a faster, safer and more productive web experience.
With Device Stage, Windows 7 enables people to get more from the devices they use most often with their PC, such as cameras, phones and printers. Windows 7 also will make it easier to use home audio-video systems and other networked media devices to play music, watch videos and display photos that reside on Windows-based PCs.
Microsoft also revealed that plans for the next generation of Windows Embedded Standard, code-named ‘Quebec’ to be built on Windows 7. Windows Embedded ‘Quebec’ delivers powerful next-generation Microsoft technologies including Silverlight 2, Windows Presentation Foundation and interoperability with Visual Studio 2010.
Alignment with Windows 7 features will give OEMs access to the skills and contributions of a global community of Windows developers familiar with Visual Studio.
The company said OEMs will be able to quickly develop applications and drivers for connected-device scenarios requiring rich applications, services and end-user experiences connecting to Windows-based PCs, servers and Windows Web services.
By John Kennedy
Pictured: federated search in Windows 7