Monday, October 19, 2009

Microsoft ready to roll out newest operating system

Microsoft will formally launch its new Windows 7 operating system Thursday. But unlike past years, when the company recruited the likes of the Rolling Stones, Jerry Seinfeld, and other cultural icons to help pitch its software, Microsoft is keeping things low key for Windows 7's debut.CEO Steve Ballmer and other executives are expected to attend launch-related events throughout the week in New York City and other locations, while users have been encouraged to hold their own Windows 7 launch parties with like-minded tech enthusiasts.

The company has also teamed up with animator Seth MacFarlane to produce a half-hour Family Guy episode featuring Windows 7.

For the most part, however, Microsoft is keeping Windows 7 hoopla to a minimum—and with good reason. The company expended considerable resources to create buzz and consumer awareness around its previous OS, Windows Vista, only to watch the product get pilloried by reviewers and users after its introduction in early 2007.

Critics complained Vista required too much computing horsepower, failed to maintain compatibility with older applications, and was full of annoying security features. Even without such flaws, it would have been difficult for Vista to have lived up to the hype Microsoft built around the product.

Vista also failed in the enterprise market, where only a handful of large corporations upgraded their computer systems to the OS from the older Windows XP operating system. Partly as a result, Windows sales have slumped badly in recent quarters.

It's thus hardly surprising that Microsoft wishes to keep Windows 7 hype to a minimum, at least until all the early bugs have been worked out.

Early indications are that the strategy could pay off, particularly in the highly conservative enterprise market. 18% of respondents to a straw poll of attendees at InformationWeek's online Windows 7 seminar said their organizations plan to roll out the new OS within six months. 32% planned to move to Windows 7 within a year.

The full version of Windows 7 Professional is $299, with upgrades going for $199. Windows 7 Ultimate is priced at $319, with the upgrade version at $219. The full version of Windows 7 Home Premium is priced at $199, with an upgrade from Vista or XP costing $119.

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