As Microsoft delivers its Windows 7 Release Candidate operating system to the public on May 5, company partners weigh in on the impact of the new platform on their products and customers.
More than 10,000 companies have signed up to have access to the tools and resources needed to prepare their products and services to take full advantage of the innovations in Windows 7.
Dan Kelley, senior director of marketing for D-Link, a Microsoft partner and maker of networking, broadband, digital electronics, voice, data and video communications solutions for the digital home and business, said, "With Windows 7 we see there's an opportunity for customers to get more out of their home networking and make it easier throughout the entire process from installing a network to adding connected devices."
Kelley added that, in his view, Windows 7 "has taken a focus on networking and has brought a lot of that to the surface as part of the user experience. And where the shared vision of D-Link and Microsoft comes into play it's really the any time, anywhere access to pretty much my digital world."
Moreover, "Connectivity is key," Kelley said. "If you can't get [the network] installed and connected then the experience is going to be pretty poor. So with the early access to the testing tools and the beta process we're going to be able to give our customers a great experience."
For his part, Joe Roberts, executive vice president of Corel, said of Windows 7, "You're really drawn into it; you want to use it."
Roberts added that Windows 7 is "an important release for Corel. We actually see this as a very strong and stable platform. It really is sparking the creativity in our user experience team and our engineers. Most of the development becomes inherent-it's just part of the operating system. We don't have to write special code for the hardware; it's just part of the overall API."
In a statement, Roberts added: "Drawing on our customer research, we're building new creative consumer applications that take advantage of the solid performance and powerful touch capabilities Windows 7 offers to turn the typical user experience of mouse clicks and menus on its head-completely changing how users interact with Corel's creative software."
"Listening to our partners and customers has been fundamental to the development of Windows 7," said Bill Veghte, senior vice president for the Windows business at Microsoft, also in a statement issued when Microsoft initially delivered the release candidate of Windows 7 to MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) on April 30. "We heard them and worked hard to deliver the highest-quality release candidate in the history of Windows. We have more partner support than we've ever had for an RC and are pleased to say that the Windows 7 RC has hit the quality and compatibility bar for enterprises to start putting it through its paces and testing in earnest."
Meanwhile, as part of the Windows 7 RC milestone, Microsoft is releasing a beta version of Windows XP Mode, which enables users of Windows 7 Professional and above to launch many older Windows XP productivity applications directly from their Windows 7 desktops, the company said. The Windows XP Mode stand-alone feature is designed to help small businesses that are using XP applications move to Windows 7. For larger businesses, there is MED-V (Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization). MED-V 2.0 builds on top of Windows Virtual PC and provides centralized management of Windows XP Mode, Microsoft officials said. MED-V 2.0 will be available as a beta within 90 days of the general availability of Windows 7.
In an interview on Microsoft's PressPass site, Scott Woodgate, director of Desktop Virtualization and MDOP (Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack) at Microsoft, discussed Windows XP Mode:
"We are announcing the beta release of Windows XP Mode for Windows 7. Small businesses told us they wanted help upgrading to Windows 7. Windows XP Mode, an optional feature of Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate editions, helps small businesses upgrade to Windows 7 by providing a virtual Windows XP environment capable of running many Windows XP-compatible business and productivity applications. Customers can run many older Windows XP business and productivity applications within Windows XP Mode and launch them from the Windows 7 desktop with just a single click."
Explaining how Windows XP Mode works, Woodgate added, "Windows XP Mode is the combination of two features. The first part is a pre-packaged virtual Windows XP environment. The second is Windows Virtual PC, which is used to run the virtual Windows XP environment. Customers can install their applications into Windows XP Mode using typical installation processes such as downloading from the Web or using the product CD. Once installed, the applications are automatically available on the Windows 7 Start Menu and can be launched just like any Windows 7 program. Optionally, these Windows XP applications can be pinned to the Windows 7 Task Bar and launched using just a single click from the Windows 7 desktop."