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Vista-To-Windows 7 Upgrades Coming Soon

"Part of the deal" for consumers who buy a Vista PC prior to Oct. 22, Microsoft says.

"With the release of Windows Server R2, companies of all sizes will get big improvements in virtualization, Web, and management," said Guggenheimer. "These areas, along with several features that improve scalability and reliability, help deliver a strong value proposition on the server side to complement Windows 7," he said.

Guggenheimer said Microsoft plans to release the Windows 7 code to manufacturers in the second half of July. Microsoft will ship several versions of Windows 7, including Starter Edition, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise, and, for emerging markets only, Home Basic.

On Monday, a Microsoft official said the company has nixed plans to prevent Windows 7 Starter Edition from running more than three PC applications at one time.

Previously, Microsoft had said that Starter Edition, which is purpose-built to run on the increasingly popular, low-powered computers known as netbooks, would support no more than three apps at a time.

Microsoft's hoping that the Windows 7 operating system helps it recover from the Vista debacle. Vista failed to catch on with mainstream computer users, and businesses have shunned it outright. Windows 7 is said to be lighter and easier to use than its predecessor. It also includes slick new features such as built-in support for touch screens and tools that improve day-to-day tasks such as desktops searches and PC-to-PC file transfers.

The software maker plans to cripple the beta version of Windows 7 on July 1.

Starting on that date, users who are still running Windows 7 Beta will see their computers shut down and reboot every two hours. The disruptions are designed to encourage early adopters to move to Windows 7 Release Candidate, a more polished preview version of Microsoft's next OS. Windows 7 Release Candidate will function until June 1, 2010. After that, users will have to upgrade to a full, paid version of the operating system to continue use.

Microsoft last week unveiled a bundle of software applications that leverage Windows 7's built-in support for touch-screen interfaces.

The Windows 7 Touch Pack includes Microsoft Surface Globe, a 3-D map of the Earth that users can navigate through with their fingertips; Surface Collage, a digital photo organizer and editing program; and Microsoft Surface Lagoon, an aquatic-themed screensaver in which fish and other marine creatures react to touch-screen inputs.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on Windows 7. Download the report here (registration required).

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