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10/22/2008
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Microsoft To Unveil Windows 7, Cloud Computing Efforts Next Week

PDC is Microsoft's foremost conference, occurring only semiannually whenever Microsoft has a series of big announcements to make, like the next version of Windows or the birth of .Net.

Windows 7 It's safe to say Windows Vista hasn't turned out like Microsoft hoped, and even that might be charitable. After being delayed repeatedly, Vista's release last year was fraught with application and device compatibility problems, complaints about the intrusiveness of the operating system's security and anti-piracy measures, and knocks on its performance. Seen through that lens, Windows 7, which will have the same hardware requirements as Windows Vista, will be an attempt to disinfect Windows' crown.

Windows 7 will likely be released before the end of next year, but PDC represents the first time the public will have a chance to take a look. The operating system's development has been largely cloaked in secrecy, with few dribbles coming out until recently. Next week, conference attendees will even get a copy of a pre-beta version of the operating system, according to a post on Microsoft's official PDC blog.

According to session descriptions and previous Microsoft statements, the operating system will come with a number of new features, including multitouch capability, support for virtual hard drives, a new taskbar and other new graphics elements, simplified device installation, storage improvements, and an overhauled version of the User Account Control security system as well as new developer APIs including "a new networking API with support for building SOAP based web services in native code."

Whether it will meet the sniff test in terms of usability and performance remains to be seen, but with similar application and device compatibility requirements, at least that problem shouldn't reappear.

.Net Framework And Developer Tools

Microsoft has already begun unveiling both .Net Framework 4.0 and Visual Studio 2010, as well as its Oslo software modeling technologies. The new .Net framework version will include updated versions of Windows Communication Foundation for messaging, Windows Presentation Foundation for graphics, and Windows Workflow.

Windows Communication Foundation will get new REST-based capabilities and support Atom and POX. Windows Workflow, meanwhile, will see performance increases of more than 10x. The company will also detail Visual Studio 2010, including the software's Oslo modeling technology. PDC attendees will get copies of an early test release of both of these elements. Also being unveiled are other future elements of .Net, Silverlight, and the C# programming language. Windows, .Net and cloud computing aren't the only things Microsoft has on tap this week. It's also expected to talk about a slew of other technologies, including .Net Framework 4.0, Visual Studio 2010, Windows Server 2008 R2, the "Oslo" modeling and SOA technology, and the future of Exchange, Office Communications Server, multitouch Surface computers, identity and access systems, and Microsoft's multicore strategy. Microsoft Research will be showing off some of its latest and greatest projects, and even the next version of Office, Office 14, may get a showing.

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