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A leaked release schedule from Microsoft shows Windows 8 possibly arriving in 2011.  (Source: MSDN Blogs; Chris Green (former Microsoft developer))
Microsoft has plenty to feel good about these days

Microsoft struggled under a negative public image during the Vista years.  However, the work it did would help to lay the foundation for Windows 7, perhaps Microsoft's most popular operating system to date.  The new OS, which was released last October, was extremely well received thanks in part to an unprecedented public test program that saw millions download free trial builds of early versions of the OS and suggest ways Microsoft could improve it.

Now Windows 7 has hit a market share of 10 percent according to market research firm Net Applications.  To put those gains in context, Windows Vista did not hit over 10 percent until May 2008 – what took Windows Vista 16 months to achieve, Windows 7 did in a mere 5 months.

Currently, Windows Vista has around a 20 percent market share, while the nine-year-old Windows XP holds 60 to 70 percent market share.

Despite the emphatic success of Windows 7, the fastest selling OS in history, Microsoft is hard at work improving the operating system and its successors  Microsoft is reportedly readying Windows 7 Service Pack 1 for a June 2010 beta release and a September 2010 final release.  The SP1 will bring out of the box support for USB 3.0, one of the most exciting new computer technologies.

And according to Chris Green, a former Microsoft developer, Microsoft is already hard at work on the best-selling operating system's successor, code named Windows 8.  The next-gen Windows may be released on July 2011.  He leaked an entire release schedule which includes the upcoming Office 2010 and its successor Office 2012.

Microsoft also had some other good news to report.  In January 2010, Internet Explorer 8 became the world's most used browser, passing IE 6.  IE 8 currently has about a 22.31 percent market share worldwide.  Internet Explorer 8's gains have been partially fueled by Windows 7's success -- IE 8 is the default browser on the U.S. edition of the OS.  

IE 8 also has benefited from a recent push by Microsoft to get users away from IE 6 and IE 7, both of which have a flaw that was exploited by Chinese hackers to steal corporate data.  Microsoft is urging users to upgrade to the new browser.  Amazingly 20.07 percent of users in January still used IE 6 (many of these were likely business users).  Google recently announced that it would be phasing out support for IE 6.

Microsoft appears to be firing on all cylinders.  If it can continue its momentum with the release of Office 2010 later this year, it should be in a very favorable position at the year's end.

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Not Surprising
By retrospooty on 2/3/2010 9:33:54 AM , Rating: 3
Like it or not, right, or wrong, Vista was a total flop from a marketing perspective. It was percieved as problematic - and for alot of people was very slow, even on a new system with plenty CPU and RAM. 7 is fast, stable, and compatible where Vista had severe issues (with public perception anyhow). It also not only pretty, but even prettier than Vista.

For me its not only acceptable, but a pleasure to use, that is saying alot.

Nice job MS. If Apple had to support 10's of thousands of hardware from several hundred different manufacturues, as well as the whole enterprise sector they would fall on thier smug faces...

RE: Not Surprising
By reader1 on 2/3/10, Rating: -1
RE: Not Surprising
By retrospooty on 2/3/2010 9:49:02 AM , Rating: 5
"That's partially why the iPhone OS is so popular. Developers don't want to deal with a billion different hardware configurations.

Developers dont need to. The OS should do that.

The iPhone is so popular because it came out and blew every other smartphone out of the water on UI and useability. Now that they forced everyone else to raise the bar (and we all owe Apple a great big thank you for that - clap clap) others are now at the same level. Because Apple is a closed hardware platform, the others will not only match apple, but surpass apple at a better price.

Closed platforms are only ever succeseful if they are superior or cheaper than the open alternative. The iPhone was superior, not for long...

RE: Not Surprising
By BZDTemp on 2/3/10, Rating: -1
RE: Not Surprising
By SandmanWN on 2/3/2010 10:09:02 AM , Rating: 5
Uhm, Windows 7 Home Premium this month is $89.
Buying Call of Duty MW2 is a $69 purchase.

We are almost at the point where buying an OS that you will use for years and runs anything you want costs slightly more than a video game.

Seriously, stop the BS.

RE: Not Surprising
By Taft12 on 2/3/10, Rating: -1
RE: Not Surprising
By SandmanWN on 2/3/2010 10:45:19 AM , Rating: 3
Yes, I think $89 is perfectly acceptable for something I will use for years. Would I like it cheaper? Sure, but its more than fine at under a $100.
Also, $89 is not the price for 90% of the country who wanders into Best Buy wanting this great new OS they heard about on TV - they'll pay $200.

Which has probably very little to do with the actual cost of Windows and more likely price markups by BestBuy individually. Why do you think it costs different amounts and different stores? And WTF are you doing looking at BestBuy for an OS anyway?

RE: Not Surprising
By weskurtz0081 on 2/3/2010 11:58:26 AM , Rating: 2
Really? Did you bother looking at first or did you just decide to make that up?

So, when you say "90% of the country", you are saying they would go with the Windows 7 Pro upgrade OVER the Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade? If they go with the Home Premium upgrade, then they are only paying $119, not $200.

RE: Not Surprising
By weskurtz0081 on 2/3/2010 12:02:53 PM , Rating: 2
I see your link, but when I click on it, our security software blocks it. Why do you think everyone would go out and buy a full version of the software instead of a upgrade version? You can still do a fresh install over XP with an upgrade version, and Microsoft will even tell you how to do it so you have no problem activating it.

RE: Not Surprising
By Newspapercrane on 2/3/2010 1:16:43 PM , Rating: 1
Last I checked 90% of the country isn't going to go to best buy and purchase an operating system to install on their computers; they're going to go to best buy and purchase a computer that already has the operating system installed.

For people looking for operating systems to install on their own systems (people of more than like above average computer skills) there are multiple ways to get a discount when purchasing the operating system: OEM licenses, Upgrade licenses, and student discounts. If you're paying full retail for a Microsoft product, you're a sucker.

RE: Not Surprising
By rburnham on 2/5/2010 10:07:13 AM , Rating: 2
69 dollars for MW2?? Where are you buying your games. It's 59 dollars everywhere I look.

RE: Not Surprising
By jonmcc33 on 2/3/2010 12:30:12 PM , Rating: 3
I paid $109 for my OEM license for Windows 7 Home Premium. That is completely acceptable for an OS license.

RE: Not Surprising
By Jeffk464 on 2/3/2010 11:59:11 AM , Rating: 1
There was a long history of microsoft increasing the bloat of every new generation of its OS. In the past this has also been a boon to the hardware manufacturers as you required spiffy new hardware to run the OS. It wasn't until lightweight netbooks the customers started to demand a slick efficient OS. Now with tablets and a trend for laptops with long battery life I don't think MS will get away with making bloatware anymore. That being said if you had the hardware to run vista it seemed to be a completely effective and stable OS.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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