For one thing, long-time Redmond based sources of Rumors are reporting that Microsoft is working on a major new shift of strategic direction — a shift which only began a matter of weeks ago at a meeting the global significance of which was underlined by a rarity in modern-day executive gatherings at Microsoft: it was attended by none other than Bill Gates, whose role at the company has been greatly downsized since early 2008.
And not only that — which all by itself would be enough to raise millions of eyebrows across the Windows user community — but a number of decisions were made at the meeting which will have a sweeping impact on how Windows & other Microsoft software are used; all part of an attempt to remove barriers (both perceived and actual) between MS technology and how people want to use it.
These are barriers that many other companies never erected…..or did so in a far more user-compatible style. For example, while Apple is just as anti-piracy as any other software/tech company out there….Infinite Loop has taken a middle-of-the-road approach, punctuated most recently by their DRM-free iTunes Plus initiative….which allows users reasonable freedom while attempting to use a subtle combination of Carrot and Stick to discourage piracy and encourage legitimate content-buying.
Microsoft, although very much a product of the marketing power of piracy in its early days (and many would argue, to this day!), has always been ardently anti-pirate to the point of greatly inconveniencing everyday users who do little if any pirating.
A perfect example of the reversal of this long-standing corporate attitude is the fact that Windows 7 will include built-in ISO disc burning capabilities just as Mac OS X has for many years now.
Rather than make it harder for unskilled consumers to do something as ‘everyday’ and routine as burning a blank disc just to put up an ineffectual roadblock to piracy that has zero impact on those who do the vast bulk of pirating…..MS is accepting that removing features or inconveniencing low-skill computer owners in a pointless attempt to slow the pace of advanced users’ piracy is a counter-productive strategy; and Windows 7 will show off, from kernel to window renderer, examples of that shift which pervade the new operating system.
Some readers, wondering how Win7 measures up against Leopard (OS X 10.5.x) and the next-generation “Snow Leopard” (10.6) expected to ship later this year, have already been inquiring by email, IM & in-person questions to our reporters on the Moscone Center expo floor…..in short, these questions boil down to a simple query: “Is Windows 7 a serious competitor for OS X?”