As Windows 7 Rolls Out, 4 Things to Expect

Microsoft is set to roll out its much talked-about — and generally well-reviewed — Windows 7 operating system tomorrow, a day some are referring to as Redmond’s Day of Redemption. Because of the ubiquity of Windows, such a major upgrade will affect many technology sectors — from mobile to utility software to wireless and connectivity solutions and beyond. With that in mind, here are four things to expect as Microsoft’s new operating system arrives.

Not Too Many Fireworks — After All, For Some, It’s Already Arrived: In light of the debacle that Windows Vista has been for Microsoft, many people have been lulled into forgetting what happens when the company delivers a well-received version of Windows. But as IBM executive Savio Rodrigues has noted, Microsoft has since learned to practice “adoption-led marketing.” The company shrewdly opened up the beta and release candidate testing for Windows 7 to anyone — a far more open approach than it’s ever taken — and has both delivered the OS to its volume licensees and already released it in the UK. It appears to be working: Pre-orders for Windows 7 have set records, even outselling Amazon’s record for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

A Slew of Hardware Announcements: There will, of course, be countless new PCs, netbooks, notebooks and peripheral devices arriving in conjunction with Windows 7. (Acer today unveiled a version of its popular Aspire One netbook with Windows 7 and a 3-D display.) Touchscreen devices based on the OS will also arrive.

As eWeek notes: “Companies such as Dell and Intel could see their own revenues boosted substantially if Windows 7 proves a hit.” In fact, there are numerous hardware companies that stand to benefit. In some categories, such as netbooks, Windows 7 can’t escape the harsh new reality of razor-thin profit margins, but in others, both manufacturers and Microsoft stand to benefit from a rising Windows 7 tide.

Far Fewer Hardware Incompatibilities Than Vista Had: Partly through developing Windows 7 based on lots of user feedback, and partly due to the guts of the OS, it’s very unlikely that we’ll see a repeat of the many hardware incompatibilities that Vista had when it was first released. (Windows 7 uses the oft-patched and upgraded core code from Vista.) That said, some hardware incompatibilities are inevitable; there are already rumblings about problems syncing mobile phones with the OS.

Shifts In Connectivity, and Utilities: In the wake of previous Windows rollouts, connectivity and networking technologies have been heavily affected by what Microsoft builds into a new version; in some cases the company’s bundling of utilities and security enhancements has forced software players selling standalone utilities out of business. One very notable software layer in Windows 7 enables “virtual Wi-Fi,” which essentially allows a user to group multiple Wi-Fi connections together to boost coverage and speeds. It’s a convenience that will become even more useful when wireless broadband access technologies beyond Wi-Fi are included.

While previous Windows rollouts provide some guidance as to what to expect from Windows 7, it’s been many years since Vista first arrived, and both the hardware landscape and the connectivity landscape are vastly different now. To some extent, we are heading into uncharted territory.