Happy Birthday Windows 7, what's next for Windows?

Windows 7 celebrates its first birthday today, a year on from the retail availability of the fastest selling operating system of all time.

It has been an incredibly successful year for Windows 7. Microsoft has confirmed that it has now sold over 240 million licenses of Windows 7 and that figure is expected to hit 300 million before the end of the year. Microsoft's success with Windows 7 began before the product was even widely available. Released in October 2009, the operating system has received praise from consumers, businesses and the media. In November 2009, Windows 7 managed to surpass Apple's Snow Leopard market share in just two weeks. In early February it was revealed that Windows 7 had reached 10% market share in just three months.

Windows 7 has also driven an uptake of 64-bit computing. According to ChangeBASE research, conducted with senior IT decision makers, more than 65% of businesses hoped to migrate to Windows 7 within 12 months of its release. Over 50% of those migrating will be choosing the 64-bit route. Microsoft confirmed in July that nearly half of all Windows 7 PCs run 64-bit versions.

Screenshots of a Windows 7 post-RTM build showed up on the web in February, fueling speculation that Microsoft is compiling early Windows 8 builds. The successor to Windows 7 will likely be available in late 2011. The software giant is keeping any Windows 8 plans close to its chest. According to company insiders that have spoken to Neowin, Microsoft is currently readying Windows 8 and is betting big on cloud computing. Microsoft is expected to build a 'Windows Store' app store into Windows 8 and Kinect-like functionality. The software maker will also integrate social networking and cloud features into the heart of Windows to finally realise its vision of software+services. A number of cloud related Windows adverts will air over the next year to seek consumer awareness on the cloud.

Microsoft is currently readying its first Service Pack for Windows 7. A public beta version was made available earlier this year and Microsoft is currently compiling internal release candidate builds. We expect a release candidate to be available shortly, possibly in time for PDC 2010 next week. A final release is expected in the first quarter of next year.

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