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Windows 7 Hits Public Beta

Ballmer made his first CES appearance at the show in a slot that used to be reserved for Bill Gates

At the opening keynote of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Wednesday night, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, making his first appearance at the show in a slot that used to be reserved for Bill Gates, announced the widely anticipated, feature-complete beta of the company’s new Windows 7 operating system.

The company's MSDN, TechBeta and TechNet customers will have first crack at the widgetry until Friday when anybody should be able to download the test-drive code off of www.microsoft.com/windows7.

The Wall Street Journal says the company, although it didn't say so, actually plans to limit the number of betas to three million.

Microsoft is flooring the accelerator to get the code out and distance itself from the Vista train wreck, particularly in view of the rotten economy.

Designed to be slick, simple and reliable, Windows 7 is supposed to boot faster, support longer battery life and annoy people with fewer alerts than Vista, on which it is based. It is also supposed to make setting up a home network a snap.

It should go on sale in a year.

Ballmer also announced the global availability of Windows Live Essentials, a free suite of communications and sharing applications including Windows Live Messenger, Mail and Photo Gallery that are designed to work seamlessly with Internet services.

Starting next month Dell is supposed to pre-load Essentials and Microsoft's Google-lagging Live Search on most of its consumer and small business PCs worldwide. It replaces a deal Dell had with Google.

Microsoft's also got a deal with Facebook, where it's invested, that will let Facebook's 500 million users share the content they post, including photos and status messages, with Windows Live users.

Meanwhile, under a new five-year relationship that covers mobile search and advertising, Verizon Wireless subscribers in the US will be able to use Live Search to search for local business and shopping information; access maps and directions; do general Internet searches; and find ring tones, games, wallpaper and other online mobile products and services.

Microsoft aced Google out of the deal.

Microsoft says Windows Live is supposed to make the things people do most on the web like searching, sharing and communicating faster and less complex with fewer clicks, logins and customizations.

It can be downloaded at http://www.windowslive.com/explore or automatically via Microsoft Update for current customers.

 

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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