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Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Friday, 9 January 2009
Microsoft shows off Windows 7

By Dan Whitworth
Newsbeat technology reporter

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

If you've ever done anything on a computer the chances are you'll have used a bit of software from Microsoft.

The American IT company's launching a demo of its latest operating system that it hopes you'll run your PC with.

But with more than one billion users to impress does it live up to the hype?

Starting up and shutting down are very, very quick. Opening applications and files has also been improved
Laurence Painell, from Microsoft UK, on Windows 7
Microsoft invited Newsbeat to its UK headquarters, about 10 minutes outside Reading, to try out the latest demo version of Windows.

The company's based in five, huge, glass-fronted buildings on an industrial estate outside the town.

Laurence Painell, Windows marketing manager for Microsoft UK, says the main change to Windows Vista will be the ability to use a touchscreen.

He said: "The great new feature in Windows 7 which everyone is talking about is touch.

"We need to make sure that we make things slightly larger so people with big fingers can make sure that they can interact with the operating system in the best possible way.

'Quicker system'

To use the touch software users will be required to buy new hardware.

Anyone with a regular laptop or office PC will still have to use a mouse and keyboard if they don't have a touchscreen installed in place of a normal monitor.

Microsoft's lightweight Windows Media Player
Microsoft's lightweight Windows Media Player in action
One of the complaints about previous versions of Windows is its speed. Microsoft claims Windows 7 is a lot quicker.

"Starting up and shutting down are very, very quick. Opening applications and files has also been improved," said Laurence Painell.

"When it comes to social networking sites, things like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, Windows 7 has been designed to work closely with its online cousin, Windows Live, which brings all of those things together in one place."

There are 2.5 million copies worldwide of the Windows 7 demo available for download.

It's not the finished version, which will go on sale within a year.

Apart from having to pay out for a new screen to use the touch facilities, critics say it's a bit too much like rival Apple software.

Microsoft are hoping Windows 7 will get them back on top after its last version, Windows Vista, was a critical and commercial disappointment.

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