09:05 22 October 2009
UK online retailer Amazon has reported overwhelming pre-order sales for Microsoft's new operating system, Windows 7, so much so that it's become their biggest-grossing pre-order product.
It has overtaken the Nintendo Wii and various Harry Potter products, only Dan Brown's highly anticipated novel 'The Lost Symbol' triumphed in terms of pre-orders.
Meanwhile, the owners of PC World, DSGi, have also revealed that the operating system has massively overstepped early sales of Windows Vista.
Indeed, it has been unofficially tipped as the product to fix the previous Vista's problems which perplexed some of its users.
Amazon also revealed that when Windows 7 was first made available for pre-order in July this year, it sold more copies in the first eight hours of its release than Windows Vista managed in its entire pre-order period.
Windows Vista was plagued with incompatibility issues which threw off everything from printers to keyboards and mice.
Microsoft also understated how powerful a computer was needed to actually run Vista properly, meaning that many users' found the OS to be sluggish and frustrating.
Microsoft's Windows 7 desktop display
But Windows 7 aims to change all that. More functional, streamlined and stylish (to battle Apple's undeniable creative influence), Windows 7 is something of a sea change for Microsoft.
While Vista constantly asked if its users really wanted to do a task, Windows 7 just gets on with it at greater speed and with a friendlier aesthetic.
The initial visual makeover is instantly apparent, but with all of its flash graphics and luxury features, it means that a higher-end machine will be needed. However, all new operating systems naturally cater for higher spec machines.
More importantly, the new software has an extensive "Windows XP Mode" that should fix the majority of incompatibility issues.
Its new features enable easier connections to networks and external devices as well as better multimedia support.
In terms of audio, Windows 7 comes with Dolby Digitals latest 7.1 codec which processes sounds at a lower, faster data rate while remaining fully compatible with all current Dolby Digital AV receivers so if youre into films and games on your PC, Windows 7 should hit all the right notes.
Browsing between programs is also drastically improved. Just by hovering over the icons in the quick launch/tool bar results in the screen coming up; move away and it vanishes.
This click-free interaction is perfect if, for example, you are writing up something and you need to keep referring to a web page. It means you can organise your own programs more efficiently.
Pleasing visuals and more accessible organisation
Another big innovation is the highly anticipated touch screen technology, which Windows 7 supports as part of its software. While the widespread usage of touch screen monitors is years off, Microsoft have acknowledged that keyboards and mice are dying breeds.
The visuals and this form of interactivity suggests a move towards more Apple-inspired territories, in an attempt for Microsoft to retain their user base and not lose any more customers to their rivals.
Indeed, many outlets are offering upgrade deals if you buy a new PC, or it can be bought as a standalone product that takes less than half an hour to install.
Whichever way, the release is being tipped as a return to form for the computing giant. Only time will tell if this incarnation of Windows turns out to be as drafty as Vista was.
After all, no operating systems that are launched are truly finished. Only time and customer interaction will reveal little bugs which will be fixed by ongoing service packs.
Another factor is the cost four different packages are being released but the cheapest is still £69.99. Apples Snow Leopard upgrade cost, in comparison, just £25. It could be wise to just wait a few months for the kinks to be ironed out and then buy a new computer with it installed as standard.
On the other hand, Microsoft certainly isnt the only company releasing a high profile OS. Googles Chrome is making giant waves in the netbook sector, while Apple and Linux are also viable alternatives.
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