Windows 7 will be the second release of Microsoft's Windows desktop operating system built on the Vista kernel.
With the beta release now available, IT departments and end-users can start assessing whether it will be worth upgrading. Microsoft has made a number of changes to the Windows application programming interface, which could be used to create new types of applications or to improve the usability and speed of existing ones.
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Microsoftsays it should run on Vista-ready hardware without any problems, and should support Vista-ready applications without modifications.
But the new operating system will include features such as multi-touch, a hand-gesture-based user interface, and new programming interfacesthat could be used to improve the performance or usability of enterprise applications.
Multi-touch takes touch-screen technology up a notch by allowing users to drag and drop on a touch screen.It includes a gesture-recognition application programming interface (API) that supports panning, zooming, and rotating, John Curran, director of Windows at Microsoft says.
"I have seen a demo where a user resizes and manipulates screen images using hand motions. Certainly computer-aided drafting and computer-aided manufacturing applications and design software lend themselves to raw finger input."
Microsoft also appears to have found a way to improve the performance of thin-client computing, and may encourage users to upgrade to Windows 7through its Terminal Services technology, which allows users to run Windows applications centrally. Currently, graphics is handled on the server, but in Windows 7, the graphics processor on the thin-client PC could be used instead. Curransays this has the potential to improve network bandwidth and speed up applications. But it does mean the thin client will need to run Windows 7.
Users should at least look at what Windows 7 could offer, even if they have no plans to run it.