After months of blowing off questions about when its next operating system would be released, Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) has finally announced a date. The company said Monday that it expected that Windows 7 would be available in time for the holiday season. The company is counting on Windows 7 to boost its sales, which fell for the first time in the company’s history last quarter.
Microsoft also hopes that Windows 7 will turn around the negative perceptions that have dogged Windows since the release of Vista in early 2007. Already, prospects in that regard look good. Reviewers have almost unanimously applauded early versions of the operating system. And while Vista was famously delayed, if everything goes as planned, Microsoft will be able to claim that Windows 7 is coming to market ahead of schedule. (It had previously only said that it expected it would take three years from the time Windows Vista was generally available to launch Windows 7, which would be January 2010.)
The new operating system features a revamped user interface (with a very Apple-like dock) and makes it easier to set up home networks and manage external devices, such as music players. Windows Media Center will also get a makeover. Overall, Microsoft says computers with Windows 7 should boot up and shut down faster, crash less often, and take up less battery life. We will see.