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Windows 7 Touch-Screen PCs In 2009, Says ASUS

The Taiwanese computer maker's plans indicate Microsoft's next OS may arrive sooner than expected.
Stung by criticism of Windows Vista, Microsoft may be hastening the release date of its next major computer operating system.

To date, Microsoft has said that Windows 7 will be released sometime in 2010. But Asus CEO Jerry Shen has let slip that his company plans to offer laptops running Windows 7 as early as the second half of 2009. "I think in the future, in the second half of next year we will put Windows 7 on Eee PCs," Shen said in an interview published this week by Laptop magazine.

In the interview, Shen said Asus, of Taiwan, will forgo Vista entirely and continue offering systems with Windows XP or Linux preinstalled until Windows 7 is available. Shen also told the magazine that some of Asus' Windows 7 laptops will feature a touch-screen interface powered by the new OS.

ASUS offers a range of low-cost, lightweight laptops under the Eee PC brand.

Given Windows Vista's unpopularity -- Microsoft doesn't even mention the OS by name in its newest Windows ads -- Redmond may be under pressure from PC makers to speed the release of Windows 7.

Vista's predecessor, Windows XP, remains the operating system of choice for most business users, but Microsoft officially retired XP earlier this year. Customers, however, can purchase Vista PCs and "downgrade" them to XP under a program that's officially sanctioned by Microsoft.

Microsoft to date has provided little technical insight into Windows 7, other than to say that applications that were not compatible with Vista won't work with Windows 7 either, because the two operating systems share the same basic architecture.

Microsoft is expected to provide more details on Windows 7 at its Professional Developers Conference next week in Los Angeles.