Ballmer announces Windows 7 Open Beta

Written by Tim Smalley

January 8, 2009 // 3:26 p.m.

Tags: #2009 #7 #bach #ballmer #ces #ces-2009 #consumer #electronics #hotmail #keynote #live #microsoft #robbie #show #steve #windows #xbox-360

CES 2009: Steve Ballmer popped his cherry last night at the opening CES keynote following Bill Gates' retirement last year.

The keynote focused on Windows 7 and the new version of Windows Live.

Ballmer demonstrated many of the new features in Windows 7 that we've already written about, including Jump Lists, the transparency effect that enables you to see desktop widgets and the new window-snap feature.

He also talked about the new networking setup procedure, which is said to take as little as three clicks to configure, and the ability to instruct content on one shared computer to be played on any machine in the network. Think of using your laptop to access your music collection on your Home Server and playing it in your living room using your Xbox 360.

Ballmer said that the open beta of Microsoft's next-generation operating system would be available for all to download on Friday, even though it was leaked to BitTorrent before the turn of the year for anyone who is savvy enough to use an application like uTorrent. I guess you could say it'll now be available to those non-tech savvy users or to those of us who wanted to wait for an official source before downloading.

Attention then switched onto Windows Live, which Ballmer described as "our cloud solution for communication, sharing and keeping your life in sync on the PC, mobile and on the web."

New features include a 'What's New' feed, enabling you to add any social networking tool and put the content delivered by them into one place. There are over 50 partners on Microsoft's list and it includes the likes of Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and Bebo.

Facebook has had the heaviest integration and you will be able to automatically post information across both Facebook and Windows Live via both platforms. The feed is also accessible from all of the Windows Live applications.

The most interesting update was to Hotmail, which now has an expandable and collapsible sidebar that enables users to quickly search for maps, addresses and much more without having to navigate away from the page. What's more, Microsoft allows you to quickly add the information into your emails without needing to copy and paste. Very cool.

Robbie Bach took to stage after Ballmer had finished discussing Windows Live and he talked about Halo 3: ODST, Halo Wars, Xbox Live Primetime and Kodu, a LittleBigPlanet clone. The biggest news to come from Bach's time on stage was the release of Halo Wars - the demo is due on February 5th with the full release happening later in the month on the 28th.

That was about it - stay tuned for more news later today. Discuss in the forums.

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