Microsoft has taken another step towards the impending release of the desktop OS that will take the place of Windows Vista. A very early version of the new OS, currently code named Windows 7, was given to federal antitrust regulators who will test and make sure that it meets the standards laid out in Microsoft's 2002 antitrust settlement. Basically, the regulators want to make sure that third-party applications have the ability to run just as smoothly as the ones Microsoft writes.
Windows 7 may include features that allow users to control the PC without using the familiar keyboard and mouse, instead using "gestures" like an iPhone or pen-based input like the Tablet PCs that Bill Gates is still a big fan of. Screenshots of some of the new OS features have recently surfaced, despite Microsoft's usual tight lips, with no confirmation of authenticity. Analysts are speculating that many features that were supposed to be included in Vista, features like a new file system called WinFS, will be part of the new release, but privacy advocates are looking hard at a feature called "location awareness," which can deliver applications and content based on the physical location of a PC.
Keyboard, mouse to get company in Windows 7 (News.com)
A preview peek at Windows 7 screenshots (Computerworld)
Will Windows 7 track your every move? (Computerworld blog)
Estimates for a release date vary, with some people saying 2010 and others predicting a release next year. Microsoft's decision to turn over early copies to federal regulators seems to suggest that the release is coming sooner rather than later, which begs the question, has the much maligned Windows Vista just become like Windows ME, a desktop OS that had problems from the start and was never widely adopted?