Windows 7 is the latest release of Microsoft Windows, a series of operating systems produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers, including home and business desktops, laptops, netbooks, tablet PCs, and media center PCs. Windows 7 was released to manufacturing on July 22, 2009, and reached general retail availability on October 22, 2009, less than three years after the release of its predecessor, Windows Vista. Windows 7's server counterpart, Windows Server 2008 R2, was released at the same time.
Unlike its predecessor, Windows Vista, which introduced a large number of new features, Windows 7 was intended to be a more focused, incremental upgrade to the Windows line, with the goal of being compatible with applications and hardware which Windows Vista was not at the time. Presentations given by Microsoft in 2008 focused on multi-touch support, a redesigned Windows shell with a new taskbar, referred to as the Superbar, a home networking system called HomeGroup, and performance improvements. Some standard applications that have been included with prior releases of Microsoft Windows, including Windows Calendar, Windows Mail, Windows Movie Maker, and Windows Photo Gallery, are not included in Windows 7; most are instead offered separately at no charge as part of the Windows Live Essentials suite.
On December 27, 2008, the Windows 7 Beta was leaked onto the Internet via BitTorrent. According to a performance test by ZDNet, Windows 7 Beta beat both Windows XP and Vista in several key areas; including boot and shutdown time and working with files, such as loading documents. Other areas did not beat XP; including PC Pro benchmarks for typical office activities and video editing, which remain identical to Vista and slower than XP. On January 7, 2009, the 64-bit version of the Windows 7 Beta (build 7000) was leaked onto the web, with some torrents being infected with a trojan. At CES 2009, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced the Windows 7 Beta, build 7000, had been made available for download to MSDN and TechNet subscribers in the format of an ISO image. The Beta was to be publicly released January 9, 2009, and Microsoft initially planned for the download to be made available to 2.5 million people on this date. However, access to the downloads was delayed because of high traffic. The download limit was also extended, initially until January 24, then again to February 10. People who did not complete downloading the beta had two extra days to complete the download. After February 12, unfinished downloads became unable to complete. Users could still obtain product keys from Microsoft to activate their copies of Windows 7 Beta, which expired on August 1, 2009.
The release candidate, build 7100, became available for MSDN and TechNet subscribers and Connect Program participants on April 30, 2009. On May 5, 2009 it became available to the general public, although it had also been leaked onto the Internet via BitTorrent. The release candidate was available in five languages and expired on June 1, 2010, with shutdowns every two hours starting March 1, 2010. Microsoft stated that Windows 7 would be released to the general public on October 22, 2009. Microsoft released Windows 7 to MSDN and Technet subscribers on August 6, 2009, at 10:00 a.m. PDT. Microsoft announced that Windows 7, along with Windows Server 2008 R2, was released to manufacturing on July 22, 2009. Windows 7 RTM is build 7600.16385, which was compiled on July 13, 2009, and was declared the final RTM build after passing all Microsoft's tests internally.
Windows 7 is written in C, C++, and assembly.
Bill Gates, in an interview with Newsweek, suggested that this version of Windows would be more "user-centric". Gates later said that Windows 7 would also focus on performance improvements. Steven Sinofsky later expanded on this point, explaining in the Engineering Windows 7 blog that the company was using a variety of new tracing tools to measure the performance of many areas of the operating system on an ongoing basis, to help locate inefficient code paths and to help prevent performance regressions.
Senior Vice President Bill Veghte stated that Windows Vista users migrating to Windows 7 would not find the kind of device compatibility issues they encountered migrating from Windows XP. Speaking about Windows 7 on October 16, 2008, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer confirmed compatibility between Vista and Windows 7, indicating that Windows 7 would be a refined version of Windows Vista.