Page last updated at 10:29 GMT, Wednesday, 3 June 2009 11:29 UK

Windows 7 release date announced

By Darren Waters
Technology editor, BBC News website

Windows 7
Windows 7 promises usability improvements over Vista

Windows 7, the next major release of the world's most popular operating system, will be officially available to the public on 22 October.

Microsoft is hoping it can avoid the negative press that surrounded the launch of Vista, the last major Windows release, almost three years ago.

Windows 7 has been designed to be compatible with Vista so users do not have to invest in new hardware.

Customers who buy a new PC with Vista will be offered upgrades to Windows 7.

Microsoft's Charlotte Jones demonstrates Windows 7's new features

At the Computex 2009 trade show in Taipei, Microsoft's Steve Guggenheimer said: "We've received great feedback from our partners who are looking forward to offering Windows 7 to their customers in time for the holidays."

Mr Guggenheimer said that Microsoft will make an upgrade option available, so PC makers and retail partners can offer customers the ability to purchase a Windows Vista-based PC and install Windows 7 when it is released.

When Vista was launched many users expressed frustration that the operating system did not work with all types of existing hardware and peripherals, or programs used commonly on PCs.

And a Vista compatibility programme for hardware proved to be confusing and, in some cases, somewhat misleading.

Windows 7 features
Windows XP mode - a virtual PC that can run older applications that might not run on Windows 7
Remote Media Streaming - access your home digital media over the net
Aero Peek - full screen previews of applications
Windows Touch: Support for multi-touch devices
Gadgets: Widgets now appear on the desktop and not in a sidebar

Windows 7 will also have "comparable system requirements" to Vista, which should mean that if your PC is capable of running Vista it will also run the new version.

Windows 7 promises a major usability improvement on Vista, and a simplification of security measures which caused frustration for many users.

Beta testers of Windows 7 have reported that it is faster than Vista, especially in terms of start-up and shutdown sequence of the computer.

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