Vista left a bad taste in many mouths and Microsoft hopes to clean the palates of Windows Vista users with the coming Windows 7 operating system. Microsoft has plans for a variety of new features that it hopes to hit the spot with computer users.
One of the new features of the operating system is an entire range of new location-based services. Vista has a location-based service in the Windows Weather widget that allows you to type in your zip code for custom weather information.
In Windows 7, the location of the computer will be easier to find according to CNET News. Applications like PC tracking programs and programs for finding friends will be offered among others. Local search could be greatly helped if the computer knew where you were without you needing to type in your city or zip code.
While it's easy for most to see the usefulness in a much more location aware operating system, for some the thought raises serious security concerns. Control options for location aware services are offered in Windows 7, and according to CNET News, the location-aware service is off by default in Windows 7.
The concern is that if users turn the location-aware service on for search or weather, any program running on the computer would have access to that location information. Microsoft says that the reason for this is that the OS doesn't provide the option to let only certain applications access location. Windows 7 doesn't have a method of determining that an application is what it claims to be. Any attempt to limit the access of location information by the OS would be easy to spoof according to Microsoft.
Microsoft Program Manager Alec Berntson said, "We only promise the control that we can realistically give to them (Windows 7 users), rather than trying to promise more than we can deliver."
Microsoft uses two APIs to provide location based services in Windows 7. The first is a low-level API for sensors and the second is an API for location. This allows the OS to use several methods for finding its location. The computer could use GPS, Wi-Fi, and cellular triangulation in addition to simply typing in where a user is.
Once the positional information of the user is found, location-based applications can use the info in a variety of ways. The usefulness of the feature extends beyond mapping and weather. In the end, what applications using the location information are capable of doing is up to the developer. Microsoft will only include a weather widget with Windows 7.
Windows 7 features have been talked about a lot recently. So far, it is known that Microsoft is stacking Windows 7 with improved reliability and performance when using a SSD, multi touch capability, a new task bar, and more.
An exact launch date for the OS is still unknown. However, several sources point to a mid-2009 launch. ASUS has stated that it will have Eee PC netbooks running the Windows 7 OS by mid-2009.