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A peak at Device Stage's display when looking at options for your cell phone. Note documentation and functionality are both easily accessible.  (Source: Microsoft)
The latest developments from Windows 7 focus on hardware

With the bits of Windows 7's pre-beta and milestone releases taking the torrent community by storm, there's more excitement than ever surrounding the highlights of the UI and top level features of Microsoft's upcoming OS, demonstrated and released at its Professional Developers Conference.  Many are pleased to see Windows 7 to be running leaner than Windows Vista, despite featuring rich graphics.

An important focus at Microsoft for Windows 7 has been hardware, though, not software.  Hardware was a virtual nightmare for both Microsoft and Vista users, when poor developer support led to incompatibility with many devices at launch.  Vowing not to repeat this problem, Microsoft is rethinking how it approaches hardware with its new OS.

At its Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, it released more official pre-beta copies of Windows 7 to hardware developers.  And it gave the same features overview, this time with a hardware twist.

Leading the way is Device Stage, a new invention from Microsoft.  This intuitive idea is something you might expect from OS X, but it’s a sign of the newfound creativity brewing at Microsoft.  The new center allows the user to select from any device attached to the system.  Microsoft is providing an interface that allows the user to access any capabilities of the device and to go online to fetch manuals and documentation on the device.  Microsoft is being stricter with hardware partners, demanding they provide quality interfaces and information.

An example of how this feature would work is if you plugged in your cell phone -- say a Blackberry Pearl. Clicking on the device in question, Device Stage has a section for manuals, a file browser where you can manage content or look through the files.  Any interface functionality, which the hardware provides will be accessible in Device Stage.

Julie Larson-Green, vice president of program management for the Windows Experience describes, "I can set up my sync capabilities [on my Motorola phone].  I can manage the media on my device. I can browse files. I can go and find that documentation because I probably threw out the manual when I got the box, so I can go online and get that. And anything that the device does can be exposed through the Device Stage."

Also improved is Microsoft's code to exploit SSD drives.  SSDs will be faster than before.  They will also provide much faster wake up and hibernation.  According to initial reports, the difference between a Windows 7 PC equipped with a SSD and a Windows Vista PC is visibly dramatic when it comes to wake-up and sleep times.

Microsoft says it is planning "Windows enhancements that take advantage of the latest updates to standardized command sets, such as ATA."  SSD makers are enthused about Microsoft's support as they feel it may give the turbulent industry the boost it needs.

While much of the Windows 7 hardware interface upgrades will require some work from developers, Microsoft is also mollifying them, by explaining that they will have less work to do adapting to the underlying interface than with Vista, as Windows 7 shares much with Vista on a base hardware level.

Microsoft is expected to elaborate more on new hardware features in coming weeks.



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RE: Windows 7 should be a free update for Vista owners
By TomZ on 11/5/2008 2:56:09 PM , Rating: 2
You have an unrealistic expectation, since SSDs more-or-less came to market after Vista did.

And besides, its not like Vista was "flawed" with respect to SSDs as you say. Instead, it is about performance tuning and adding the ability for the OS to detect the presence of a SSD and adjust its algorithms accordingly.


By Lord 666 on 11/5/2008 3:29:37 PM , Rating: 2
SSDs existed way before Vista

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid-state_drive

For the OS to be aware, all it will take is a simple Service Pack and not to purchase a new OS.


By Spivonious on 11/5/2008 3:53:29 PM , Rating: 2
They existed before Vista, but weren't used in consumer devices until mid to late 2007, over a year after Vista was finished.


By Lord 666 on 11/5/2008 4:08:46 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft is well aware of new products before their introduction and sale to consumers.


By therealnickdanger on 11/5/2008 4:11:53 PM , Rating: 2
...And hardware manufacturers are WELL aware of the requirements to interface with Windows. They also are fully aware of their crappy controllers before bringing them to market. Bad SSDs freeze on any OS you use.


By TomZ on 11/5/2008 8:07:14 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Microsoft is well aware of new products before their introduction and sale to consumers.

There has to be a valid business case to support a new feature in a particular software release. Engineering resources are not infinite. And as others have pointed out, SSDs - especially in the use case of replacing HDDs - were not widely used when Vista came out.

And while SSDs did exist (for many years BTW), they also did not exist in their current form with the current technology. Microsoft wouldn't even have been able to test their implementation against any of these devices.


By mindless1 on 11/5/2008 4:26:14 PM , Rating: 2
No, Compact Flash cards are SSDs, just with their own CF abbreviation. Obviously they were in the market long before Vista, and it's definitely true that Vista, and XP, and 2K, were all flawed with respect to disk access. The flaw is the idea that an OS "needs" or "should" be writing non-essential things to a drive continually without the user specifically directing for it to happen.

All SSDs are doing is causing MS to go back and properly implement what they did wrong in the first place.


By coversyl on 11/6/2008 3:30:13 PM , Rating: 2
Speaking of the OS accessing disks, can anyone help me with the following. I have an external USB hard drive which powers down after a period of inactivity.

I want it to stay powered down until i access it, but if I delete a file on (say) my c-drive then the delete 'hangs' until the external usb drive powers up (a few seconds) and then the delete completes.

Why should the external drive power up when i am deleting files on the local c-drive?


By mindless1 on 11/7/2008 10:50:28 PM , Rating: 2
There is no valid reason why it "should", this is just another blatant bug in windows. Same thing happens when most people launch any 16 bit legacy app, or when the recycle bin is emptied, etc. MS does not care about your system so long as you keep paying them.

It seemed ok, when we only had average commodity PCs, but now the field has changed and windows can't suit all system applications anymore, but all get get now is the bloated XP, the expensive and fickle XPe, or the obscenely bloated Vista. Oh, but you can have obscenely bloated with a !@#$ touchscreen if only you buy Windows7 too. LOL, masochists don't want to learn anything.


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