WinHEC: The unique advantage of the PC is choice

Microsoft tries to convince hardware partners that Windows 7 will ship on time and asks for more focus on hardware and software reliability.

WinHEC 2008

Opening the only Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) due before Windows 7 ships, Microsoft fired a broadside at rival Apple, emphasising the benefits of the broad range of PC form factors and devices available.

The company also called on attendees at the event in Los Angeles for help to improve the PC experience, particularly with driver and application compatibility and reliability.

Acknowledging the impact of delays to its Windows Vista operating system, senior vice president of the Windows Core OS division Jon DeVaan admitted better needed to be done for the launch of Windows 7.

"One of the things we knew we needed to do was give [partners] reliable pre-release builds that give you confidence that when we say we're going to ship Windows 7 on a particular date, you'll believe us... so you can have faith we're going to deliver a high-quality Windows 7 on time," he said.

Microsoft also tried to assure developers that improvements in Windows 7 will fix issues with battery life and start-up and shutdown times. DeVaan highlighted improvements like an additional 11 per cent extra battery life when playing a DVD in Windows 7 by reducing the load on the CPU and GPU by three per cent and five per cent respectively. Windows 7-based machines can make better use of low-power modes when using Wi-Fi if there's a strong signal; while changes to the kernel and system clock will also increase power efficiency.

DeVaan suggested slow shutdown times were often caused by badly-behaved services. "It's usually a timeout - telemetry tells us there's some kind of untied shoelace."

He promised to simplify Microsoft's various certification programmes and appealed to developers to develop 64-bit drivers, use key tools to check their effect on system performance and look for bugs in software and drivers. This will benefit users, he said, adding how Microsoft shares customers with its hardware partners.

"Trust us to do the compatibility work and let your products work on newer versions of Windows and our mutual customer will have a better experience as we go forward".

Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president of the Windows group, demonstrated the hardware-focussed features of Windows 7 and made a veiled comparison to the Mac's limited number of form factors.

"Choice is an important part of all we do together; with Windows 7 we're really focussed on enabling you to deliver a great deal of experience and choice... unique types of PCs with different form factors and price points."

He showed Windows 7 running on an Asus Eee PC netbook with a 16GB SSD "with room to spare" as well as on a Core i7 quad-core gaming PC with twin NVIDIA 280 GTX cards that he said had: "150 times the graphics power of this Eee PC, and that's the range of performance you can get on the Windows platform".

Other demonstrations highlighted native support for Bluetooth 2.1 and 3G and the touch-enabled Media Centre interface as well as support for the new Device Stage experience from Nokia (for the N95), Logitech, Canon, Epson and SanDisk.

Sinofsky gave more details of how the previously announced Windows Rally technologies (vertical pairing, PnPX and Windows Connect Now) enable faster and simpler device connections including the Windows 7 PlayTo feature, which he used to send images to a wireless picture frame directly; functionality he said Microsoft had found customers "are willing to spend over $100 extra for".

Sinofsky referred briefly to ShedChip' functionality that could use hardware acceleration to speed up transcoding for media files being played on devices without support for the codec of the original file, perhaps taking advantage of the built-in H.264 and HD support in the latest generation of GPUs.

Sinofsky also showed a Lenovo ThinkPad with a spectraphotometer that calibrated the screen to show 100 per cent of the full Adobe Photoshop gamma for what he claimed was "the first time ever, on any PC on any platform". Microsoft supports a wide range of form factors and devices from a vast number of hardware partners and it wants to win back their trust as well as reminding customers that this brings them much more choice than Apple's limited number of form factors.

Featured Resources

Shining light on new 'cool' cloud technologies and their drawbacks

IONOS Cloud Up! Summit, Cloud Technology Session with Russell Barley

Watch now

Build mobile and web apps faster

Three proven tips to accelerate modern app development

Free download

Reduce the carbon footprint of IT operations up to 88%

A carbon reduction opportunity

Free Download

Comparing serverless and server-based technologies

Determining the total cost of ownership

Free download


16 ways to speed up your laptop

16 ways to speed up your laptop

15 Oct 2021
How to virtualise Windows 7 inside Windows 10
Microsoft Windows

How to virtualise Windows 7 inside Windows 10

9 Sep 2021
Managing a late migration
Microsoft Windows

Managing a late migration

11 Feb 2021

Most Popular

What should you really be asking about your remote access software?

What should you really be asking about your remote access software?

17 Nov 2021
What are the pros and cons of AI?
machine learning

What are the pros and cons of AI?

30 Nov 2021
Access brokers are making it easier for ransomware operators to attack businesses
cyber security

Access brokers are making it easier for ransomware operators to attack businesses

1 Dec 2021