Windows Vista didn’t really go down a storm, so Windows 7 really needs to impress to win us over. Here are five things you need to know about Windows 7.

What will the system requirements be?

Microsoft aren’t telling us what the recommended or minimum might be yet, but are sticking firmly to the line that what works with Vista will work with Windows 7. Microsoft did confirm that version 7 would be available to support the full range of PCs, from Enterprise to netbooks. Perhaps they’re just keen to ditch XP...

Enhanced hardware support

Windows 7 is built to support touchscreen at the OS level, so theoretically you won’t need a third party application for this technology. Those large icons on the taskbar provide a gateway to using Windows 7 with your fingers. Hardware support goes further, however, opening the door to hardware like integrated GPS or light sensors, again, with the OS supporting the hardware without the need for third party applications. Intelligent management of hardware will also provide benefits to battery life, for example, disabling the Ethernet port when out of use.

Home Group and Device Stage

Not only can you access your wireless networks through a single click in the system tray, but sharing is going to be easier through Home Group. This will allow Windows 7 users to easily share their digital content wherever they are stored making a sharing network simple and easy. Windows 7 supports the DLNA 1.5 standard, so playing media with compatible devices will be easy. Device Stage looks to improve your relationship with your music players, cameras, printers and other devices, by providing a dedicated area to manage them, whilst giving device manufacturers a framework within which to support those devices.

It looks like Vista with a Mac shakedown

Based on the Vista kernel there is inevitably a heavy dose of Vista look and feel. But everyday tasks have been simplified and streamlined. You can drag and drop your widgets wherever you want on your dynamic background, hover on taskbar icons to get previews, snap resize to get two windows side-by-side, or instantly make all your windows translucent, to glance at a widget.

When can you get it?

Microsoft are being coy about an actual date for release, with the beta available at the end of the week, and the roadmap dictating a January 2010 release, rumours have the date at December 2009. But the beta will be available to download from 9 January allowing Vista users to try it out for themselves.