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Microsoft Australia has showed off the latest “release candidate” (RC) version of its Windows 7 operating system to a party of Aussie IT journalists at its North Ryde HQ.

The release candidate is the final version before commercial release, expected in coming months. But the RC was looking well polished and ready for commercial action in yesterday’s demo.

Execs led by Microsoft Oz evangelist Jeff Alexander and Sarah Vaughan ­ not the celebrated jazz singer but business group honcho for the new system Down Under ­ stressed the new system’s security features, its zippier out-of-the-blocks performance, touchscreen potential and (on laptops and netbooks) extended battery life: hopefully enough to make the customers forget its sluggish Vista predecessor

Boot-up is certainly impressively faster, and installation a snap: a Lenovo ThinkPad, whose 541 files occupied 6GB, was transformed from Windows XP to a Win7 64-bit machine in just 23 minutes and 33 seconds

Among the security features, the new BitLocker To Go, which encrypts removable USB key-drives ­ and can be set to bar access to such devices unless BitLocker is enabled ­ appears a corporate winner.

Most journos seemed impressed, even those toting Macs: Win 7 runs speedily and easily on the Apple machines.

The reptiles of the Aussie press left with their satchels stuffed with Win 7 preview disks and their bellies similarly replete with the Microsoft canteen’s hearty lasagne lunch. ­ David Frith

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