Microsoft hopes that the release of Windows 7 will repair the public relations disaster that is Windows Vista. But the toughest challenge may be to win over the group of people that arguably represent the software giant's biggest obstacle to success: Windows XP users.
The Windows 7 pitch, to date, takes direct aim at Vista's reputation as a bloated resource hog. As developers, members of the general public and journalists begin to test the Windows 7 public beta, Microsoft is framing it as a lean and lithe OS, with the flexibility to run on all types of computers, from netbooks to high-end gaming laptops.
The new Windows 7 interface features are well documented. A cleaned-up taskbar, the sleek Aero Peek GUI, mouse-hover Jump Lists and multi-touch capability have generated interest from users whose Windows desktops have been cluttered for too long.
Quicker, easier, more organised. Those were the buzzwords about Windows 7 features that Parri Munsell, Microsoft's Director of Consumer Product Management for Windows, used repeatedly in a recent interview from CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas last week.
"Our goal was to make the UI in Windows 7 much easier to navigate. We'll let the beta speak for itself but we have a high degree of optimism in it," Munsell says.
As for fastest growing segment of the PC market, netbooks, Munsell says that Microsoft has made it a priority to run Windows 7 on small form-factor laptops.
"Windows 7 has been optimised and engineered to work with anything: from the smallest netbook to the most loaded laptop or desktop," he says.
A lot is expected of Windows 7, but can it do what at times has seemed impossible-win back the trust of XP users who have shunned Vista?