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You cannot have escaped the fact that this week is the Microsoft PDC2008. Those attending the Professional Developers Conference, only held every other year, were lucky enough to witness the first full public demo of Windows 7. What's more, PDC attendees even walked away with a full pre-Beta build of the next generation Windows Operating System.

Microsoft announced plans to release a full Windows 7 beta early into 2009.

Windows 7 promises to deliver new features to help protect privacy and data, while making it easier to recover from problems. Then there is the streamlining and simplification of common tasks courtesy of a new taskbar and a streamlined user interface. Hmmm, is it just me or does that sound an awful lot like the promises that were made for Vista? In fact, Windows 7 sounds an awful lot like Vista! You would have thought, with all the developers working on it, Microsoft might have made more of an effort to make it appear like a different product. After all, Microsoft does seem to be trying to leave Vista behind elsewhere, such as in the new official Windows blogs for example.

"We are excited to be delivering a pre-beta developer release of Windows 7 today at PDC2008," said Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president of the Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group. "With our new approach to planning and development we now have a great foundation for our partners to start learning and innovating on this exciting new version of Windows."

Other 'first time' news from PDC2008 includes the premiere demonstration of the new Web Applications for Office line. These are essentially cut down versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote that can be used directly from within any standard Web browser. Better yet, the demo revealed full and lossless file compatibility between the Web, phone and PC versions of Office.

"Microsoft supports diversity in work styles and understands that customers want choice and flexibility in how and where they work," said Stephen Elop, president of the Microsoft Business Division. "Microsoft is in a unique position to meet that customer need. Office enables people to view, edit, share information and collaborate on documents on the desktop, phone and in the browser, and do so in a consistent and familiar way."

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