Windows 7 pre-beta build: What's inside

Windows 7 pre-beta build: What's inside

Summary: Microsoft isn't going to show Windows 7 to attendees of the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles until Tuesday, October 28. But new info about what's part of the pre-beta build that will be provided to show-goers is beginning to trickle out. Here are some of the upcoming features I'm hearing bits and pieces about....

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Microsoft isn't going to show Windows 7 to attendees of the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles until Tuesday, October 28. But new info about what's part of the pre-beta build that will be provided to show-goers is beginning to trickle out.

According to a variety of sources, the build that will be distributed at PDC -- and, a week-plus later, at the company's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) -- will be one of the M3 (Milestone 3) builds. Like the build that leaked in September, this will be a 6801 numbered build, sources say. But it doesn't seem to be the same one I saw a few weeks back. UX Evangelist blogger Stephen Chapman says it will likely be a 6801 M3 build which Microsoft finalized on October 20.

So what's in this soon-to-be-delivered Windows 7 pre-beta build? Here are a few new features Microsoft will provide, according to various individuals who've had a chance to see and hear about the forthcoming PDC pre-beta build. (Note: I didn't bother running this list by Microsoft for official comment, as I figure the response will be: Wait till Tuesday.)

* Device Stage -- a central location for customers to more easily interact with devices, ranging from printers, cameras, cell phones, media players, etc. Device Stage will only recognize "Device-Stage-enabled" peripherals. According to additional info on Microsoft's WinHEC site, "Device Stage is a new way for consumers to manage, explore, sync, print to, or do other common device-related tasks. (I wonder: Is this more than souped-up Plug and Play?)

* Action Center -- a self-diagnosis feature to help users troubleshoot problems with their Windows 7 systems

* StreamOn -- a way to control audio/video content on PCs and devices (Part of the next version of Windows Media Player? Or something to do with Live Mesh? I don't have more info at this time.) * A new animation framework for customizing animations (Is this akin to Apple's Core Animation tool? I have no idea.) * New task bar and shell integration (Hints of this emerged in the September M3 leak) * Multi-touch and gesture recognition -- something Microsoft showed off earlier this year in an early Windows 7 preview

* Improved Bluetooth support (Not clear if this goes beyond the new level of Bluetooth support Microsoft is adding via Vista Service Pack 2)

* Ribbons, ribbons everywhere. As was evident in the leaked September M3 build, Microsoft is adding its Ribbon UI to the applets that are part of Windows 7.

I'm hearing Microsoft is going to show off a number of other features during the Tuesday PDC keynote that aren't yet part of the pre-beta that is being distributed to attendees. (Internally, Microsoft already is working on builds post the M3 cut that it is delivering on the 160 GB external drives on which it is delivering the pre-beta Windows 7 bits.)

I'm also still hearing that Microsoft is on track to deliver a public beta of Windows 7 by mid-December this year, and final by next year. With Vista's growth rates nothing to write home about, I'm sure Microsoft -- even with all of its quality controls -- has a lot of incentive to get Windows 7 out there sooner rather than later....

Anyone else hearing about any new Windows 7 features we'll see later this week? I'm especially interested in what Microsoft is planning to deliver in Windows 7 for enterprise users, as most of these features are consumer-focused.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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163 comments
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  • More info about Sensors?

    I saw this function in the earlier builds and wondered if any more news had come about from them.

    From past projects and their fates, I have bad vibes about Device Stage. Not that Playsforsure, for example, had any part in that..... ;)
    dcoaster
  • This is sounding more and more like Vista SE

    There really should be DEEP discounts for Vista Ultimate and Premium purchasers.
    BitTwiddler
    • More correctly

      What Windows Vista should have been when it was released.
      I'm still skeptical as to whether Microsoft actually pulls it off
      or whether its going to be Vista repeated.
      Kaiwai
    • Discounts? A shareholder "undisclosed balance sheet liability"?

      Surely not. The pigs come before the consumer. Microsoft is just a method of taking money from people to give to the rich, dressed up as a technology company.

      Here are the features :
      * Device Stage ? A few more working drivers, but a "very clever" way to embrace and extend the hardware companies ...

      * Action Center ? Yeah don't actually fix the problems, just write an interface that will blame anything/one other than Microsoft ...

      * StreamOn ? A new attempt at DRM, but this time from "the cloud". If they and their RIAA buddies can't trust these filthy greedy disgusting thieving consumers to keep their little gravy train going then they'll simply own all of the content ...

      * A new animation framework for customizing animations - Specifically locked in to Silverlight?

      * New task bar and shell integration - Shell? Does that mean command line? How will the mouse wielding monkeys cope with a bit of typing?

      * Multi-touch and gesture recognition ? Blink, and it blue screens ...

      * Improved Bluetooth support - "Improved" means nothing when coming from the BloatFarm.

      * Ribbons, ribbons everywhere. As was evident in the leaked September M3 build, Microsoft is adding its Ribbon UI to the applets that are part of Windows 7 - Yeah whoopee doo dah, like, our products don't work and everybody hates us for the way that we "do business", I know, lets change the UI and make a lot of noise about that ...
      fr0thy2
      • Get a clue b4 posting

        "* A new animation framework for customizing animations - Specifically locked in to Silverlight?"

        If you could replace SilverLight, which is web only, with WPF, you might just make a little more than zero sense. The rest of your posting is equally rubbish like always.
        LBiege
        • LOL

          You take yourself so seriously dude. Must be all those MS press releases you had for breakfast ;-)
          fr0thy2
        • "posting is equally rubbish like always" - always is - but funny - lol.nt

          nt
          TheBottomLineIsAllThatMatters
      • Wow, why support a company that is so hell bent on robbing you of choice

        Get Windows 7 and become even more locked into the MS ecosphere. No thank you!

        I'm starting to regret leaving XP, when MS had fewer ways to enforce lock in.

        I don't want DRM and I don't want Silverlight. Flash is bad enough.
        T1Oracle
        • If flash is so bad, why aren't you willing to try silverlight?

          [i]I don't want Silverlight. Flash is bad enough.[/i]

          You're right. Flash IS bad. ActionScript is a horrid
          language to have to work in. That's why I'm holding
          high hopes for what Silverlight might become: you can
          use many different languages with it and it's
          multiplatform, so I'm looking forward to using it in
          place of Flash... I'm not always sure why people
          aren't willing to give this stuff a try. Microsoft has
          a bad rep, but not everything they've created has
          sucked. I hope this is one such thing. I so badly need
          to never look at ActionScript again...
          Caggles
        • Locked in? WTF are you babbling about?

          I can't speak bout Windows 7 since it's not been released yet. But... Odd thing about Vista - Most software that ran on XP will run on Vista.

          Firefox 2.x or 3.x - runs on Vista.
          Opera 9.x runs on Vista.
          Safari runs on Vista.
          OpenOffice runs on Vista.
          WordPerfect Office runs on Vista.
          Real Player runs on Vista.
          WinAmp runs on Vista.
          QuickTime runs on Vista. Badly, but hey, it runs.
          Thunderbird runs on, you guessed it, Vista.

          So what was this FUD about being locked in???
          Wolfie2K3
      • LOL-"Microsoft is just a method of taking money from people to give...

        to the rich, dressed up as a technology company." Look everyone Robin Hood lives in Sherwood Forest! Happy Holloween - even the reality challenged have a place in society - here's proof.
        TheBottomLineIsAllThatMatters
        • Backwards casting there...

          Obviously... In his reality, Bill Gates is Prince John, Steve Balmer is the Sherrif of Nottingham and Stahlman is playing the part of Robin Hood...
          Wolfie2K3
          • Casting

            Nah, Stahlman is Don Quixote.
            A.Sinic
          • nah.....

            Stallman looks a good deal more like Charles Manson.
            xuniL_z
      • Discounts

        Talk about nothing to say and taking a lot of words to do it.
        nimrod666
  • Gesture recognition?

    Does this mean you can finally tell Windows what you think of it?
    kozmcrae
    • No, not quite.

      It means Windows can tell you what it thinks of you.

      "Invalid gesture, please try changing your frown."
      fr0thy2
    • Hey Windows!...How many fingers do you see???

      Just "one"???
      linux for me
      • zdnet, this guy is suggesting giving the FU sign and you

        are deleting my post? <br><br>
        But then you've shown a high level of bias toward the OSS crowd, even if they make obscene gestured and remarks.
        xuniL_z
    • Re: Gesture Recognition, multitouch

      Finally, Windows can [i]feel[/i] the 3-finger salute.
      cgarrett