Is the midnight madness a thing of the past for Microsoft events, or are PC owners still willing to stand in line at midnight to be among the first for a copy of Windows 7?
[See our guide to Windows 7 here]
The first copies in Australia went on sale to the public on Wednesday at midnight at a Harvey Norman store in Alexandria, Sydney, along with other midnight launch events around the world, including Tokyo's Akihabara. The first unofficial sale in Australia, according to Harvey Norman, was to Spiros Giokaris, pictured above.
While the Release Candidate has already been freely available, this week's launch marks the official transition of Windows 7 into the public arena - and the true test of whether Microsoft has managed to turn around Windows' reputation since the launch of Windows Vista.
Whether you regard the new OS as a minor or major upgrade, there's no doubt Microsoft has managed to pull off a largely successful PR campaign for its new OS. Reviews and commentary has praised the new OS, with much of it focusing on better performance.
The changes include a smaller kernel, usability improvements including menu jumplists, performance improvements, and multitouch capabilities for laptops and desktop PCs with touchscreens. Microsoft has also made key components of Windows - such as email and file syncing - downloadable add-ons under the Windows Live brand.
Fingers will be crossed that issues that plagued the launch of Vista will not come back to bite Windows users a second time. Microsoft has been cautious during the development cycle, including an XP compatibility mode that uses virtualisation to ensure XP programs will still run. Major vendors including AMD have readied drivers. Hardware vendors including Acer and Sony have been readying laptops and desktops that take advantage of the operating system's new touchscreen capabilities.
Windows 7 - highlights from our testing
- Performance is solid, if not groundbreaking - our testing found less than stellar general performance in Windows 7 vs Vista.
- Bootup times are faster (for some) - XP took more than 60 seconds in our tests, with Vista taking 49.3 seconds and Windows 7 reducing this to 47.2 seconds. Mind you, there has been some arguments about boot up times
- Good, if not great news for gamers - while our tests don't show significant frame rate improvements over Vista, gamers should see benefits when Direct X 11 support appears.
- Good news for playing DivX and Xvids - Native playback of DivX and XviD files is another potentially useful addition to Windows 7.
Windows 7 pricing:
We first covered Australian pricing when it was announced in June. Here are the details from our story:
The good news is that the costs are pretty similar to buying Windows Vista. Windows 7 Ultimate's RRP is $30 more (Upgrade) or $20 more (Full version) than the equivalent Vista product, but a full version of Windows 7 Home Premium works out $50 cheaper than Vista Home Premium.
• Home Premium $199
• Professional $399
• Ultimate $429
Full Version pricing
• Home Premium $299
• Professional $449
• Ultimate $469