Ready or, well, ready, Microsoft is rolling out the red carpet for its first public alpha release of Windows 7, the successor to its much-maligned Vista operating system.L.A.'s the place for Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference, being held this week. (Keynotes, starting at 8:30 a.m. PT today through Wednesday, will be webcast live; you can view the schedule here.) Thought it's way too early to predict whether Windows 7 will be an OS Oscar contender, reports InformationWeek: "According to session descriptions and previous Microsoft statements, the operating system will come with a number of new features, including multitouch capability, support for virtual hard drives, a new taskbar and other new graphics elements, simplified device installation, storage improvements, and an overhauled version of the User Account Control security system as well as new developer APIs including "a new networking API with support for building SOAP based Web services in native code."
What's missing are "some of Windows' best built-in applications," such as Windows Mail, which can be downloaded, among other goodies, from the Windows Live site. Microsoft left them out on purpose "to use Windows 7 as a Trojan horse in its war against Google," says Computerworld. "It's a variation on the classic "loss leader" in retail, where you lure folks in with freebies and then pounce with a hard sell."
In addition, Microsoft is expected to detail is cloud-computing strategy, including a fee-based application hosting offering for developers along the lines of Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud and Google's App Engine. "It can offer cost savings, especially if you're a startup and you don't know how much traffic you're going to get or what kind of storage capacity you're going to need," an analyst told the Seattle Times.
Microsoft will also discuss the beta of Windows Server 2008 R2, which, according to ZDnet's Mary Jo Foley, will include Version 2 of Microsoftï¿¼s Hyper-V hypervisor, Live Migration, and a more graphical Version 2.0 of the PowerShell scripting engine.
Separately, but also this week: Microsoft will ship Windows Vista SP2 on Wednesday to a select group of testers. (It's expected to be ready for prime time during the first half of next year, before the expected release of Windows 7.) The service pack with contain previously released fixes, plus Windows Search 4.0 for faster and improved relevancy in searches, the Bluetooth 2.1 Feature Pack supporting the most recent specification for Bluetooth Technology, the ability to record data on to Blu-Ray media natively in Windows Vista, Windows Connect Now (WCN) to simplify Wi-Fi configuration, and support for UTC timestamps, which allows correct file synchronization across time zones.