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Windows 7 talk turns to hardware

At this week's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, Microsoft will shift the Windows 7 conversation to what it means for computer and device makers.

The "device stage" in Windows 7 serves as a central point where hardware makers can offer a range of options from synchronization to product manuals to settings. Microsoft

LOS ANGELES--After unveiling most of the details around Windows 7 to developers last week, this year's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) isn't expected to be the barn burner it is in some years.

WinHEC will have the same venue as last week's Professional Developer Conference, the same Windows 7 bits and, indeed much of the same pitch that Microsoft gave last week, albeit with a more hardware-oriented bent.

Still, I expect to find enough tidbits about the OS to make it worth your (and my) time. I'll have full coverage starting Wednesday.

In particular, look for Microsoft to talk up its Device Stage--a feature in Windows 7 where hardware device makers can offer all kinds of information about their add-ons.

Julie Larson-Green, vice president of program management for the Windows Experience, demonstrated the feature last week, showing what she might be able to do by connecting a Motorola phone to her Windows 7 PC.

"I can set up my sync capabilities," she said. "I can manage the media on my device. I can browse files. I can go and find that documentation because I probably threw out the manual when I got the box, so I can go online and get that. And anything that the device does can be exposed through the device stage."

Microsoft will need support from PC makers for other things, such as touch, but I would expect them to make much the same case they did at PDC--namely that Vista was the tough adjustment and that there should not be too much heavy lifting associated with getting ready for Windows 7.

I've been playing around with Windows 7 myself. I'm trying it out on a Lenovo X300. With its solid-state drive, the most striking thing is how fast the Windows 7 machine both goes to sleep mode and wakes from sleep. My only complaint--it doesn't seem to be working with my USB Sprint card, making me more Wi-Fi dependent than normal.

I'll have more to say on my Windows 7 impressions in a follow-up posting this week.

Also at WinHEC, I'll be talking to PC makers and generally nosing around. In the meantime, if you have Windows 7 questions, send them my way by Wednesday and I will do my best to find answers at the show.

Click here for more news on Windows 7.