At this very moment, Steve Ballmer is annoucing that Windows 7 has entered public beta and is now available for download. There’s a good entry on the Windows 7 Team Blog about how to install the Windows 7 Beta – published almost at the same time as SteveB is unveiling it in his CES Keynote. If you’d rather not read the liveblogging, here’s a synopsyis of the now-un-embargoed content which the press has already been prepped on.
While the announcement of Windows 7 Beta so soon should prove newsworthy, for the sharper observer I think the interesting points are the big plays Microsoft is announcing in the online space. The first are two search deals – one PC and one Mobile – with Dell & Verizon. In both cases Microsoft is beating-out Google, and both should help contribute to pushing Microsoft’s search share upward, and driving usage of Microsoft online services out-of-the-box. Furthermore, the announcement that Facebook has been added as a partner for Windows Live is significiant. Microsoft seems to be positioning it’s new http://home.live.com as the super-aggregator of Flikr, Twitter, and now Facebook newsfeeds. I was testing out the new home.live.com today and was pretty impressed – it’s ability to scan my Facebook & LinkedIn profiles to find contacts to add on Windows Live is especially powerful as it should help to accelerate growth of the service. This was one of the keys to LinkedIn’s early success.
SteveB talks about the three screens – the PC, the TV, and the Phone. So the announcements about Windows 7 features that stream media to an Xbox help solidfy the Xbox’s place as the Microsoft foothold into the living room. You can clearly see a solid beachead on the TV with the Xbox and on the PC with Windows 7. I’d be most worried about the Mobile piece, where Alley Insider points out that Windows Mobile 6 is outdated, 6.5 a stopgap measure, and Windows Mobile 7 appears to have been delayed.
I doublt the blogosphere will get too excited with the SteveB keynote, but Windows 7 Beta will probably get huge pickup in the mainstream media and especially among the financial press, where I imagine they’re paying close attention to Microsoft’s abilty to deliver a successor to Vista before the holidays.