Ballmer highlights Windows 7 features at US launch

Microsoft took the wraps off Windows 7 in a series of launch events, headlined by its chief executive Steve Ballmer in New York.

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Microsoft took the wraps off Windows 7 in a series of launch events, headlined by its chief executive Steve Ballmer in New York. Similar events were held in Beijing, Tokyo, Hamburg and Munich.

"At the end of the day, it's trying to make the everyday usage of the PC better in the way you want it to ... simpler, faster, more responsive, less busy," Ballmer said.

Despite the global push, this has been a relatively low-key launch fitting the way Microsoft is characterising the new OS - feature-rich, but above all, straightforward to use.

The Vista OS, plagued by a variety of issues including hardware compatibility problems, slow performance and system alerts, was not always embraced by Microsoft customers.

The older Windows XP still is used by 72 percent of computer users, compared to 19 percent for Vista, according to the latest Market Share Report by web-site software company Net Applications.

One crucial difference between the making of Windows 7 and Vista - bringing in manufacturers very early in the development process to create metrics for testing - began three years ago, stressed Microsoft and PC company officials at the launch.

"What's special about Windows 7 and the way it came together was ... an intense collaboration with hardware and peripheral makers, developers and customers around the world," Ballmer said.

"We engaged early, there was early testing with Microsoft, working on metrics ... taking a humble approach toward really nailing the fundamentals - boot time, resume, suspend," said Michelle Pearcy, director of worldwide consumer marketing for Dell. The result is a product that is "fast, efficient and fun," she said.

Businesses have had a chance to be early adopters since August, so the hoopla accompanying the worldwide launch is mainly aimed at consumers, noted Tami Reller, chief financial officer and corporate vice president for the Windows Business Group.

That was the case in New York. Ballmer and corporate vice president Brad Brooks, who demonstrated the new OS, focused on the consumer experience. Brooks showed how users could import images from a camera into Windows Live Movie Maker to make slide shows with a short series of clicks.

The demo also showed off Windows 7 MultiTouch features, which let users move objects around the screen by touching them and dragging with their fingers.

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