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Ballmer and Gates defend Vista, drop Windows 7 hints

'Not a failure, not a mistake'

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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer yesterday insisted that the firm was not guilty of making huge blunders with its unloved operating system Windows Vista.

Speaking at the All Things Digital D6 conference alongside lame duck chairman Bill Gates, Ballmer contended: "Vista's not a failure and it's not a mistake.”

He also took the opportunity at the opening night of the Wall Street Journal event in Carlsbad, California, to claim that Microsoft has now shipped 150 million Vista licences – that’s ten million up on the figure released by the company in late April.

Of course, that’s a somewhat skewed number given that a large swathe of companies that bought machines loaded with the Vista OS opted to downgrade to Windows XP – a fact acknowledged by Ballmer yesterday.

Gates, who finally hangs up his Redmond boots on 30 June, was a little more reticent on the lukewarm response Vista has so far received.

He said that the company could learn “plenty of lessons” from its handling of the spurned OS. "We have a culture where we need to do better," he said.

Meanwhile, the hapless happy duo also offered the merest taste of Windows 7 which is the successor to Vista.

Microsoft Windows veep Julie Larson-Green gave a brief demo of the operating system’s new interface and multi-touch capabilities at the event. Multi-touch technology is already found in Microsoft’s Surface table-top system, which is based on, yep, you guessed it – Vista.

Ballmer described Larson-Green’s demonstration as showing off only “the smallest snippet of Windows 7”.

Indeed, the software giant has decided not to spill the beans so quickly on its upcoming OS. Microsoft admitted it has shot itself in the foot in the past by going public too soon on products it’s developing.

“With Windows 7, we're trying to more carefully plan how we share information with our customers and partners. This means sharing the right level of information at the right time depending on the needs of the audience,” said the company in a Windows Vista team blog post yesterday.

Microsoft said that the rationale behind that decision would enable it to be “more predictable in the delivery of our products”.

The firm has in recent days gone to great pains to convince its business customers that grasping the Vista nettle first would ease the path to Windows 7 deployment when it reaches the masses – with January 2010 being the date Microsoft insists it will land.

It has also continued to proclaim Windows 7 as being the next “major release” for the software multinational.

Peculiar then, you might agree, that we at Vulture Central received this statement from Microsoft today:

“The goal with Windows 7 is that it will run on the same hardware as Windows Vista and that the applications and devices that work with Windows Vista will also be compatible with Windows 7. So customers will be able to fully leverage their Windows Vista investments in the future when Windows 7 ships.”

That’s an OS that sounds remarkably like Vista mark two to us. ®

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