With Windows 7 and new designs, PCs looking better

REDMOND, Wash.

Although no one waits in long lines for a new edition of Windows anymore, the debut of Microsoft’s latest software that runs PCs is part of why buying a computer is starting to feel fun for the first time in years.

Windows 7 is expected to work better than its predecessor, Vista. At the same time, Microsoft’s marketing has gotten savvier and PC makers have followed Apple Inc.’s lead by improving hardware design. Computers with the Windows operating system suddenly seem a lot less utilitarian.

“If you line up the six or seven most interesting PC designs, people will say, `Wow. I didn’t know all of that could be done with a PC,'” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in an interview.

Windows 7, which becomes available Thursday, is designed to look cleaner than Vista, streamlining the ways people can get to work, with fewer clicks and fewer annoying notifications.

Vista fell flat because it didn’t work with many existing programs and hardware. Microsoft fixed many of Vista’s flaws but didn’t spread the word, instead allowing Apple to attack with ads that pit a dorky office stiff (PC) against a casual creative type (Mac) and paint Vista PCs as unjustifiably complex.

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