Microsoft Copies Apple With Windows 7 Launch Surprises

screenshot-windows7-two

I’m at the Windows 7 launch event as I write this, where Microsoft has clearly taken a page from Apple’s playbook. It has held back a number of things in the months running up to Windows 7, so the launch wouldn’t be a rehash of things we’ve seen for months. This is historically been one of the key marketing advantages Apple has: Because it doesn’t do public beta tests, it can release a product and surprise you with its new features. Granted, with Leopard and Snow Leopard, part of the “surprise” was how buggy they were.

So Microsoft held some stuff back and kept it secret, and this launch actually isn’t entirely a rehash of stuff we’ve seen over and over again. Let’s take a look at some of the last-minute reveals.

Amazon’s Surprise

This started yesterday when Amazon reported that preorders for Windows 7 were the highest it had ever seen, exceeding Harry Potter, which previously held the record. Think about this: Harry Potter is arguably one of the popular book series of all time, and an operating system beat it in numbers. This would be like an educational film having longer lines the first day than a Pixar or Disney flick. This just doesn’t happen, yet this week it did.

Best Buy’s Surprise

Not to be outdone, Best Buy attempted to corner the Windows 7 market with a huge list of deals, starting with a bundle of an HP laptop, netbook, monitor, router and a Geek Squad visit to set it all up for less than what an iMac typically costs. They’re selling a total home solution for less than the cost of an average Apple desktop or laptop. This is just part of a number of very aggressive offers from a number of retailers and OEMs (though it is the most aggressive I’ve so far seen).


Best Buy's PC Home Makeover includes a notebook, netbook, desktop, LCD monitor, and router for $1200.
Best Buy's PC Home Makeover includes a notebook, netbook, desktop, LCD monitor, and router for $1200.


Windows 7 Themes

Microsoft launched a series of Windows 7 downloadable personalities (I like the Infiniti theme the best because I drive one). These ranged from car and motorcycle themes, to country themes, to game themes (Gears of War 1 and 2) which allow you to customize the background with rotating pictures tied to the theme. In addition, you can make your own theme, and have it run instead.


New Windows 7 Themes
New Windows 7 Themes



Media Center Goes to War

Media Center has been one of the most underappreciated features of Windows, historically. As we moved to consuming media from digital cable, it increasingly felt out of date. Well not anymore. The product has been optimized for touch, tied to a new set of digital tuners (including those that can take cable card), and now has an Internet TV feature with a huge number of Internet channels to keep you entertained. While the new tuners, at least the ones with bi-directional cable card support, won’t be out until next year. Media Center now looks like it might have legs, which is a nice and unexpected improvement.

Performance and Usability Improvements

We had a chance to meet with a number of companies that had deployed or tested Windows 7, and it was interesting to hear what they liked best about it. They mentioned a number of features that stood out. For instance, Windows 7 will notify you that you need to open a Web browser to fully access the Internet, rather than leave you wondering wonder why the damn thing wasn’t working even though dialog said you were connected. They also liked the incredibly fast boot times (they demonstrated 15 seconds and Lenovo said it was getting 10 seconds in the lab with next generation hardware), improved networking, better drivers, and vastly better battery life. It was like a Windows love fest, and I haven’t seen that in a long time.

Returning Pride to Windows Users

Apple users clearly have a lot of pride in their hardware and this, once, was true of Windows as well. As I spoke to the various test and deployment sites (one had actually deployed 2,300 Windows 7 PCs) I heard, once again, some of that old pride. Folks felt ownership for the product, because they had contributed to it, they were excited about how well it worked, and for once in a very long time were deservedly proud of the platform. Now, if I could get Microsoft to read and understand the book Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, they could really showcase Windows 8 the way it deserves to be showcased. (The event was a little dry, given how fired up the beta testers and customers were.)

In general, though, it’s nice to have a Windows product we can be proud of. Let’s hope this is a trend, and not a onetime shot.


The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Product Review

For picture quality on a budget, Vizio's new P-Series is absolutely unbeatable

Vizio’s P-Series TV line has always been the best among the brand’s long run of budget-friendly TVs, but this year’s model has really stepped up. While the competition is also improving, Vizio’s latest P-Series keeps the brand among…
Gaming

These are the best Xbox One games out right now

More than four years into its lifespan, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.
Movies & TV

Peter Dinklage gets cryptic about two 'Game of Thrones' characters' fates

With the eighth and final season looming, Game of Thrones fever has officially become a pandemic. Our list of all the relevant news and rumors will help make the wait more bearable -- if you don't mind spoilers.
Computing

Was your Facebook account hacked in the latest breach? Here’s how to find out

Facebook now reports that its latest data breach affected only 30 million users, down from an initial estimate of 50 million accounts. You can also find out if hackers had accessed your account by visiting a dedicated portal.
Mobile

Got gadgets galore? Keep them charged up with the 10 best USB-C cables

If you weren't already aware, USB-C is quickly becoming mainstream. That's why we've rounded up some of the better USB-C cables on the market, whether you're looking to charge or sync your smartphone.
Computing

How to protect your iCloud account

From Chinese hacking to identity theft, it's not surprising if you're a little worried about your iCloud data. Here's how to protect your iCloud account with a few simple security steps. It will only take a few minutes, and we'll walk you…
Mobile

Preapproval for iPhone Upgrade Program now available for iPhone XR

Apple took the wraps off of its new set of iPhones, including the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and the new iPhone XR. The iPhone XR is being offered as the "affordable" iPhone, and it's a little different than the more expensive models.
Computing

Which is best: The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme or the 15-inch MacBook Pro?

To try and help nail down the best 15-inch laptops in the world, we compared the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme vs. MacBook Pro 15 in a head to head that looked at their power, design, and portability.
Mobile

Google Pixel 3 vs. Apple iPhone XS: Does Google’s A.I. take down Apple?

The Google Pixel 3 is here, boasting top-tier specs like a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and 4GB of RAM, and some of the world's best artificial intelligence features on a phone. But can it take out the Apple iPhone XS?
Mobile

Hinge's new feature wants to know who you've gone out on dates with

With its new "We Met" feature, Hinge wants to learn how your dates are going with matches in its app. That way, it can inject the information into its algorithm to provide future recommendations that better suit its users' preferences.
Mobile

Which Verizon plan is best for you? We check out family, individual, and prepaid

Verizon offers lots of plans for individuals, your family, and folks who want prepaid service. Here is everything you need to know about Verizon's plans, from data packages and smartphones to Big Red's prepaid plans.
Mobile

Safeguard your new Apple smartphone with one of our favorite iPhone XS cases

If the iPhone XS is your next phone, then you’ll want to shop for some proper protection now. That glass sandwich design is all too easy to scratch or crack, so make sure you snag one of the best iPhone XS cases to keep it looking good.
Mobile

Here are our favorite wireless phone chargers for Android devices and iPhones

We checked out the best wireless phone chargers to make tangles and uncooperative ports a thing of the past. Whether you have an iPhone or Android, find out which wireless charging pads are worth buying, and how their features compare.
Gaming

Apple Mac users should take a bite out of these awesome games

Contrary to popular belief, there exists a bevy of popular A-list games compatible for Mac computers. Take a look at our picks for the best Mac games available for Apple fans.