It's COMING For You …. No, not the Blob – Windows 7

windows7

Yes… I realize this is a long post but there’s lots of good information on everyone’s BFF (sorry) Microsoft.

Microsoft announced on Friday, April 24th, that it will distribute the near-final “release candidate” version of Windows 7 beginning this week.

Subscribers to Microsoft’s MSDN and TechNet developer programs will get the code on April 30, with plans to make it broadly available starting May 5. The May 5 date matches one that was in a note briefly posted on Microsoft’s Web site.

Build 7100 of Windows 7, the version presumed to be the release candidate, has been making the rounds on file-sharing services for the past day or so. The software maker has reportedly given the build to some early testers, though it has declined to confirm that.

Near-Final Release Candidate?
The near-final release candidate version is expected to be the last public milestone before Microsoft finalizes the code for the new operating system. The software maker has refused to commit to launching the product before next January, but Microsoft has been aiming to get the product done so that it can find its way onto PCs sold during this year’s holiday PC buying season.

This “release candidate” timing puts Microsoft within striking distance of a late June, early July release of gold code. Early summer delivery would give some OEMs just enough time to get Windows 7 in market for some back-to-school PCs.

Microsoft’s Sales Are Hurting
They need Windows 7’s released sooner rather than later. A double whammy of falling PC sales (lower revenues)and rising netbook sales (lower margins) brought record Windows sales declines in Microsoft’s fiscal third quarter, ending March 31.

Microsoft’s revenue fell 16 percent to $3.14 billion and operating income declined by 19 percent to $2.51 billion. Windows 7 could give a badly needed boost to back-to-school PC sales and, of course, holiday 2009. Friday Was A Big Announcement Day For Microsoft
Apparently money is so tight in Redmond, the software giant notified its workers that it is cancelling the annual summer picnic for the Seattle area workers.

Microsoft spokesman Lou Gellos said that the company made the move as part of its effort to pare its expenses and said workers were notified on Friday because this is around the time of year that the company typically sends out a reminder about the event.

Gellos also noted that the event has become a growing logistical challenge as Microsoft’s Puget Sound workforce has grown. “It becomes a bigger and bigger issue every year,” he said. The company now has about 41,000 workers in the region. The annual picnic was one of the few events that brought together the bulk of Microsoft’s Puget Sound workforce, which is spread out over many different parts of the region, including Seattle, Bellevue, and Redmond.

Personally, I don’t intend to lose any sleep over these numbers and cut backs, Microsoft is still in great financial shape – we should all be so well off.

One Final Note:
Microsoft is trying to make it easier to sway users of Windows XP onto the latest version of its operating system.

For some time now, Microsoft has been quietly building a “Windows XP mode” that uses virtualization to allow Windows 7 to easily run applications designed for Windows XP. According to sources familiar with the product, the application compatibility mode is built on the Virtual PC technology they acquired in 2003, when it scooped up Connectix.

By adding the compatibility mode, Microsoft is aiming to address one of the key shortcomings of Windows Vista: its compatibility issues with software designed for Windows XP and earlier versions of their operating systems.

Windows XP Mode
Details of the Windows XP mode, previously known as Virtual Windows XP, were first published earlier Friday by the Windows SuperSite blog. The technology has not been part of the beta version of Windows 7 or previously disclosed by Microsoft, but is expected to be released alongside the upcoming release candidate version.

According to the SuperSite report, written by bloggers Paul Thurrott and Rafael Rivera, the XP mode won’t come in the box with Windows 7, but will be made available as a free download for those who buy the professional, enterprise, or “ultimate” versions of Windows 7. The site also has some screenshots of the mode in action .

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