Microsoft’s hardware and software partners will receive copies of Windows 7 RTM starting Aug 16 or Aug 23 2009, depending on which partner program they’re assigned. OEMs or original equipment manufacturers in other words, computer makers will have Windows 7 in hand approximately two days after Microsoft’s announcement.
Volume licensing customers, normally large organizations and companies will be able to grab Windows 7 RTM starting Aug 7 if they have an existing Software Assurance plan or if they do not have they will have it on Sept 1.
LeBlanc also confirmed that Microsoft will sell a three-license “family pack” upgrade from earlier editions of the OS to Windows 7 Home Premium, but did not flesh out that notice with pricing or timing information. Reports have circulated for two weeks that Microsoft would reprise the multi-license upgrade pack it offered for Windows Vista; at least one reseller has posted the suggested list price as $149.99 on its Web site.
Microsoft will likely announce that Windows 7 has reached release to manufacturing (RTM) status on Wednesday. An analyst with directions on Microsoft Michael Cherry said that RTM almost seems like a non-event and also stressed that he had no special knowledge of when Microsoft would declare Windows 7 finished. But it’s got to be any day now. The company earlier pledge that it would move the new operating system into its final pre-sale phase, sometime in the second half of July 2009. The importance of RTM has ebbed since Windows Vista.
Consumers and other customers will have their first shot at Windows 7 on its official launch day Oct. 22 2009.
Microsoft first announced its Azure plans at last year’s PDC and the product has been available as a free technology preview form since then. The cloud operating system isn’t launching in final form until Microsoft’s October Professional Developer Conference.
On a pure consumption basis, Microsoft said it will charge 12 cents per hour for computing, 15 cents per gigabyte for storage and 10 cents per 10,000 storage transactions. For network bandwidth, the software maker is charging between 10 cents and 15 cents per gigabyte. The discount plan, dubbed the development accelerator comes in two forms and offers a 15 percent to 30 percent discount off the consumption charges. It requires a six-month commitment, with overage charges billed at the regular rates. After six months, the pricing reverts to the standard Azure rates.
Microsoft also announced pricing for its SQL Azure database, charging $9.99 for the basic Web edition, including up to a 1GB relational database and $99.99 for the Business Edition, which includes up to a 10GB database.
The software maker said it would promise 99.95 percent reliability for its compute and connectivity and 99.9 percent for role instance and storage. Microsoft finds itself in a new type of business, where it competes with the likes of Amazon.com’s Amazon Web Services and Salesforce.com’s Force dot com.
The pricing announcement would be made at this week’s Worldwide Partner Conference, which is taking place in New Orleans.
Microsoft plans to release cloud-based component of Office 2010:
Microsoft’s unveiling of the free Office Web applications comes as Google and its free Web-based Google Docs offering continues to woo away once-paying Microsoft Office users. Industry analysts said Microsoft’s free Office Web offering is a chance for the software giant to regain some of the users it lost to Google while also re-establishing its dominance in the productivity software space.
Microsoft’s opportunity to one-up Google by offering a much better product. The full Office 2010 suite will hit the streets in the first half of next year. When Office Web goes live, it will offer stripped-down versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote in the cloud. Users will be able to access the applications directly through Microsoft’s Windows Live portal, and they will launch directly within a browser.
Google’s initiative is forcing Microsoft to change its business model. Google had Microsoft painted into a corner, and the only way it could respond to Google Apps and Google Docs was to offer a free application suite of its own.
And while Microsoft is taking aim at Google and reclaiming its turf, Microsoft offering free Web-based applications has some industry watchers wondering how Microsoft will make money with free software via Office Web. It’s the age-old question of why buy the cow when the milk is free.
During the first three quarters of fiscal 2009, Microsoft’s software division, which includes Office products, made $9.3 billion in profit from $14.3 billion in sales, with Office representing the majority of those sales.
Microsoft has said that the free version of Office 2010 via Office Web won’t give users all of the same features and functions they would receive if they purchased the desktop-based software, which will run from about $70 to $350 depending on the version. Microsoft said Office 2010 will feature video editing in PowerPoint and image manipulation in Word, two features that the free version will not offer.
Schmidt now believes Google can withstand whatever counterpunches Microsoft might throw as the company sets out to make computers cheaper to buy and more enjoyable to use with an operating system tied to Google’s 9-month-old browser, Chrome.
The operating system, due out in the second half of 2010, threatens to chip away at Microsoft’s market share in the low end of the PC market the less expensive and less powerful laptops known as “netbooks,” which are becoming increasingly popular among consumers primarily interested in surfing the Web.
Most industry observers believe it will take years before the Chrome operating system develops into a serious challenger to Microsoft’s Windows, which runs on more than 1 billion PCs, according to Collins Stewart analyst Sandeep Aggarwal. The Chrome operating system also could put Google into direct competition with Apple.
Schmidt doesn’t see a conflict. He said he doesn’t intend to rescue himself from Apple board discussions about computer operating systems like he does when the directors talk about Apple’s iPhone. Schmidt leaves those talks because Google also makes a mobile operating system called Android.
Some computer makers already are considering using Android as an operating system in netbooks, but some may think Android is better suited for handheld devices. They also think elements of the Android and Chrome systems could eventually merge.
As long as the Internet market is still expanding, Schmidt said he doesn’t view either as serious threats, because Google’s internal studies show those who sign up for Twitter and Facebook tend to use the company’s search engine even more. He also said Google has held discussions with Twitter on a lot of different issues, including getting better access to Twitter’s posts so they will show up more quickly in Google’s search results.
Although Google won’t charge for the Chrome operating system, Schmidt said it could easily pay off by driving down the cost of computers so people can afford to buy more machines and surf the Web more often. Google wants people to spend more time online because it is the biggest seller of Internet ads which is the main source of its more than US$20 billion in annual revenue.
Google to launch Chrome Operating System (OS):
Google said netbooks with Chrome OS could be on sale by the middle of 2010. The key aspects of Google Chrome OS will be Speed, simplicity and security.
The operating system, which will run on an open source license, was a natural extension of its Chrome browser. Google already has an operating system for mobile phones called Android which can also be used to run on netbooks. Google Chrome OS will be aimed not just at laptops but also at desktops for those who spend a lot of time on the web.
Last year Google launched the Chrome browser, which it said was designed for people who live on the web – searching for information, checking e-mail, catching up on the news, shopping or just staying in touch with friends. It shows just how serious Google is about making the web into a foundation not just for static pages but for active applications, notably its own such as Google Docs and G-mail.
Google’s announcement Chrome OS comes at an interesting time where Microsoft is poised to launch its new operating system Windows 7