Microsoft’s Windows 7 Aims to Simplify

LOS ANGELES(Reuters) – Microsoft Corp is betting its next Windows operating systemwill be faster and easier to use and avoid the missteps from theintroduction of Windows Vista, which alienated many users of thesoftware that powers 90 percent of the world’s PCs.

Windows 7, which was previewed on Tuesday, is set to be introducedin a test version early next year with features including touch screentechnology and the ability to more easily personalize the system.

Windows Vista was so heavily criticized due to poor compatibilitywith devices and slow start speeds that it became the target of aneffective marketing campaign by rival Apple Inc.

In addition, the usefulness of a traditional Windows desktopoperating system, the world’s largest software maker’s most profitableproduct, is being challenged as more software applications move online,highlighting the central role of Internet browsers in a world centeredon the Web.

Microsoft decided to measure success by a positive user experienceversus technical superiority — often overlooked by ordinary consumers.

Julie Larson-Green, a Microsoft corporate vice president in chargeof overseeing the design of Windows 7, noted, "It’s fine to have thebest technical solution. But just like VHS and beta. The best technicalsolution doesn’t always matter," referring to the video format battlesin the late 1970s and early 1980s.


Microsoft plans to introduce more user-friendly features, such as anew taskbar that previews all the open windows from a singleapplication by hovering over the program’s icon.

Another new feature is called "Jump Lists," which provides updatedlists of recently worked-on documents or often visited Web siteswithout first having to open Microsoft Word or an Internet browser.

"People aren’t coming to Windows to use Windows. People are comingto Windows to get to what they want to do. Helping them get to whatthey want to do is the goal of the operating system," said Larson-Green.

The new philosophy at Windows is a nod to the success of Apple,which has seen its U.S. market share double since 2005 due in part toan advertising campaign that has portrayed Vista as clunky and harderto use.

Microsoft has countered with a $300 million marketing blitzfeaturing comedian Jerry Seinfeld, rapper Pharrell Williams, writerDeepak Chopra and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, looking to emphasizethe reach and diversity of Windows users.

Windows Vista has sold more than 180 million licenses since itslaunch in January 2007, but Microsoft executives have said privatelythat the software over-promised and under-delivered, a problem thatthey say will not be repeated with Windows 7.

Windows 7 aims to keep hardware requirements in line with that ofVista so that companies do not need to buy special machines to run thenew operating system.

Microsoft said it has also solved the compatibility problem withdevices that plagued Vista at its launch with a new feature calledDevice Stage, a one-stop point to manage and gather information fordevices from mobile phones to printers to digital music players.

(Editing by Derek Caney)