LOS ANGELES--Microsoft on Tuesday offered up far more details on Windows 7, successor to the company's oft-maligned Windows Vista.
In particular, Microsoft is focused on improving the time it takes for Windows to start up and shut down. In addition to its own work, Microsoft has been working directly with computer makers to address all of the factors that affect system performance.
As far as other features, Windows 7 features support for multitouch input and a new taskbar that makes it easier to manage multiple open Windows.
"The focus is on making sure the things you do (today) are easier and that the things you always wanted to do are possible," Corporate Vice President Mike Nash said in an interview Monday. "There's a lot of work we've done to just make things easier and faster.
The early, prebeta version being handed out to developers at the Professional Developer Conference here has all of the programming interfaces that will be in the final version but only some of the planned features.
Several enthusiasts who have been checking out the new code for the past couple of days praised the stability of the release, particularly for an operating system, at this early stage.
With Windows 7, Microsoft has changed the way it approaches building early releases. In the past, Microsoft included features at various stages of development. With Windows 7, features are included in the main Windows build, only after they are fully baked.
Microsoft is clearly looking to leave a far different first impression than it did with Windows Vista, which made major changes under the hood and led to considerable incompatibilities. With Windows 7, Microsoft is not introducing any major changes to the Windows kernel and is keeping much of the other plumbing substantially similar to that of Vista.
The software maker has also tried to reduce some of Vista's other annoyances, such as the frequently criticized User Account Control feature, which some complained led to too many annoying dialog boxes. With Windows 7, users will be able to choose for themselves how often the system warns them of changes being made to their computer.
The next external release of Windows 7, a feature-complete public beta, is slated for early next year.
Nash wouldn't say whether the company plans more than one beta version before its final release. "We'll see how the first one goes," he said.
The company has said it will have the release out within three years of Vista's January 2007 mainstream release, however, CEO Steve Ballmer has said he wants Windows 7 out next year.