Windows 7 in Our DNA

Almost go time for Windows 7. Planning and Development of the OS began immediately after the release of Windows Vista. We took a broad view on upcoming technology trends, customer pain points, realistic development schedules, etc. We took advantage of our direct relationship with our customers and developed a list of items that needed to be addressed such as speed, hardware resource requirements, and reducing interruptions like the frequent security prompts.

A fundamental change was made in the way we approached the development and launch of Windows 7 with Microsoft. Traditionally the hardware vendors were responsible for their piece of development, Microsoft had responsibility for the operating system and end users were responsible for applications. We partnered together and changed the way we approached Windows 7 and together overhauled the entire experience from bare metal (the system) all the way through to applications. I personally have been using Windows 7 on both my work and home PCs for nine months.

Sharing information was critical and Dell and Microsoft met regularly to address end user input. Out of those meetings Microsoft created a set of powerful tools to analyze all components in our computers and isolate any problem areas. We ran the traces and had the data analyzed to identify and improve performance ranging from system boot time, to stand-by and resume time, to driver loading. We took final code, ran it through a battery of tests and those results were sent through analysis at Microsoft. We caught and corrected several "little issues" that could stack up to become a big issue for our customers.

Dell also worked with all our vendors to deliver highly optimized code that wouldn't cause negative effects like slow boot times or poor performance. Much of that knowledge was put to good use when designing how Windows 7 would operate.

You might say that Windows 7 has all the good parts of Vista plus some, and that those that needed improvement were sent to daily 5am Boot Camp work outs until they could "fly right." Windows 7 is a much leaner operating system than its predecessor. Microsoft did an outstanding job of optimizing Windows 7 to boot faster, go into and resume from Suspend faster, and to Shutdown faster.

Microsoft has optimized the boot process, by taking out unnecessary Services and drivers from automatically loading but instead moving them to a new On-Demand startup category. Services like Bluetooth will not automatically load unless there is demand for it. This is brilliant. Reducing the number of Services that need to load on each boot reduces the Boot time and the OS footprint occupied in memory, leaving more room for applications. Many of the improvements came out of the collaborative effort between Dell and Microsoft, and we're justifiably proud of our contribution in optimizing the user experience with Windows 7.

Dell was very passionate about certain features because we knew they were critical to the overall experience of Windows 7:

  • XP Mode – there are several business customers that need a way to deal with legacy applications that aren't compatible with Vista or Windows 7. We pushed this as critical functionality.
  • Wireless performance – Dell and Microsoft teams worked closely to improve the performance of mobility features in Windows 7, like wireless connectivity, like reducing the time to locate and connect to a network. The wireless user experience is also much more streamlined and easier to use.
  • Integrated touch functionality – We knew that Windows 7 would have integrated touch, opening up an entirely different way to approach input. Microsoft used the Latitude XT2 and Studio One 19 during the development of multi-touch functionality in Windows 7 and the functionality was given as much attention as other input devices (keyboard, mouse, etc). The integrated functionality creates a common API – or programming language – so that application providers now have a standard way to tweak their applications to take advantage of multi-touch for activities such as photo editing, digital content creation, etc. Paul Thurrot posted an in-depth review (scroll down) on Windows Touch on his Supersite for Windows

A final observation – now that Windows 7 has been optimized to use as little memory as possible and to operate as efficiently as possible it is even possible to run it on a netbook like our Mini 10. Previously, the best choice for a Mini 10 might have been XP. Win7 starter absolutely flies on a netbook. Now, users can confidently expect great results from Windows 7 up and down our entire product line from the most powerful desktop to the most convenient netbook. That just goes to show the amount of optimization made in this OS, and how much more you'll enjoy our products with Windows 7 on them.

About the Author: Daniel Chappelear