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Since 1st March, 1999
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Taking a leaf from Apple’s book
Multitouch technology will be a vital feature of Windows 7

Like a flamboyant cricketer in its prime Microsoft peaked as a company and industry leader with the launch of Windows 98. With Windows 98 and the follow-up Windows 2000, the company was on a roll. Then came the blockbuster Windows XP. Patchy at first, it finally stabilised. Then the cricketer turned arrogant and sloppy and dropped dolly catches. It became complacent.

Windows Vista is basically an old concept with bad lipstick and too much make-up. With almost 70 million lines of code, it is heavy and slow. It is terribly resource hungry. With billions of computers on Windows, people need a leader to fulfil their needs in computing. Microsoft is no more that leader. Instead it has become a follower, copying at random from Apple’s concepts. Vista is nothing but a bad copy of Apple’s old OS X called Tiger.

With Bill Gates’ exit from Microsoft the new public icon is Steve Jobs. No wonder people are moving in droves to Apple’s range of MacBooks and iMacs, and, of course, iPods and the iPhone. Microsoft must do something drastic to regain its leadership. Hence the hype surrounding Windows 7, which is still two years away. Nobody really knows what it will comprise, but Bill Gates revealed a bit in a recent speech in Japan. He said Windows would be “low power, take less memory, be more efficient, and have lots more connections with the mobile phone.”

He added, networking between computers would be easier. “If you have two PCs, your files are automatically synchronised; you won’t have a lot of work to move that data back and forth.” Sounds much like Apple’s current operating system, Leopard.

So why is it called Windows 7? If you have Windows XP, go to Start—Run and type in cmd. A dialog box, called the Command Prompt, will open up. Now type ver. The version number displayed is 5.1.2600. In Vista, the version number displayed is 6.0.6001.

New features

The forthcoming Windows 7 will be built around a more modular copy of the Vista kernel. The kernel is the central part of many computer operating systems which manages resources and communication between hardware and software components. It has been christened the MinWin kernel and will fill just 25 MB of disk space and run with 40 MB of memory. It will have networking built in, but Microsoft has to add a sleek interface or keep it minimal for use on low-end PCs. It will have a much less installation time — just 10 minutes, they claim.

Multitouch technology is certain to be included — possibly a touch screen keyboard to input data by just gesturing your fingertips. You will be able to zoom into pictures by a pinching motion of your fingers and move pictures and data icons around your Desktop by just touching and moving them.

There will be an automated backup system, a step to catch up with Apple’s Time Machine.

For easy sharing of pictures, movies, files and documents and printers, the networking setup will be called HomeGroup. Apple is ahead here, too. I already use Apple’s Bonjour for Windows to print wirelessly to my printer.

“Live Mesh” will allow you to share and synchronise folders on the web, learn the status of your friends and sync data with your mobile devices.

You can access your files from anywhere, just as in Apple’s Back to my Mac feature.

You will have better home entertainment tools through a project codenamed Fiji, which may include support so that you can get digital cable TV signals in your PC without a set-top box.

Microsoft has some of the best designed but least known technologies. One of them is its support for Unicode. Unicode is an industry standard whose goal is to provide the means by which text of all forms and languages in the world can be encoded for use across computers, regardless of the make or operating system. Windows 7 will enhance this further. So typing in local languages will not be a pain as it is now because many software makers have not fallen in line with Microsoft standards. Now they will be forced to.

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