Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said during his opening keynote at CES that Windows 7 is nearly final, further hinting that Windows 7 may be released earlier than expected.
The CEO announced that a nearly final "beta" test version of Windows 7 will be available Friday for regular PC users to download and tinker with.
The new operating system — which could be available for purchase on PCs within a year — uses much of the same underlying technology as its predecessor, the much-maligned Vista. But Windows 7 aims to resolve many problems PC users had with Vista. For instance, Microsoft pledges to make it easier to install peripheral devices and to have the software pump out fewer annoying warnings and notifications.
Ballmer also pledged that Windows 7 will boot faster and drain laptop batteries more slowly.
"I believe Windows will remain at the center of people's technological solar system," Ballmer said. "We're putting in all the right ingredients: simplicity, reliability and speed, and we're working hard to get it right and to get it ready."