Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer says the firm’s new operating system will provide companies and public sector bodies with a more resilient, secure and cost effective IT infrastructure.

Speaking at the UK press launch of Windows 7 yesterday, Ballmer said the recession and its aftermath will mean that IT professionals will need to deliver more for less. And for that to happen, technology will need to deliver more innovation and far greater efficiency.

“Chief information officers will be asked to pull costs out of IT and then costs out of the rest of the business,” said Ballmer.

In a bullish performance, he claimed Windows 7, which has been under development for three years, will help customers meet these challenges.

He said early customers reported that the new OS was delivering savings of $70-$140 per PC per year, through increased efficiency and lower maintenance costs.

Talking about the experience of launch customers in the UK, he mentioned South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust “where IT really is mission critical.”

The trust has invested heavily in Microsoft infrastructure since it was formed out of the three ambulance services that served Kent, Surrey and Sussex. It was present at the launch to explain how it hopes the new OS will deliver improved communications, network and mobile device security.

Key features of Windows 7 include improved security, new virtualization capabilities – clearly aimed at winning business from VMWare – faster speed of installation and new direct access technology.

On the user side, the most eye-catching features include touch-screen capabilities and speech recognition.

Ballmer argued the benefits would be compelling: “In the next three to six months it’s my hope that we convince you that every new PC you acquire ships with Windows 7.”

In a triple product launch, Microsoft launched Windows 7, Exchange Server 2010 and Windows Server 2008 R2. “Nothing beats introducing new products,” said Microsoft’s famously irrepressible CEO.

Ballmer said 2010 would be just as interesting, with the launch of Office 2010, a new release of SQL, Office Communications Server, and SharePoint – which he said had become Microsoft’s most successful product launch to business customers.

The head of Microsoft said there was still a demand for more capable operating systems, with Apple continuing to invest, Google developing two – Android and Chrome – and Firefox developing into an OS.

“When we shipped Vista, there were a lot of articles saying Vista was the end of operating systems,” but the world continued to rapidly evolve,” said Ballmer. He pointed to social networking as part of the environment “people will expect to see in their OS.”

Other developments planned for the future include gesture recognition – currently being developed under Microsoft’s project Natal – and realising the full potential of multi-core architectures.

As to the future, Ballmer said he had good “line of sight “on the development of the OS up to 10 years out. “We’ve got Windows 8 under development now.”

Link: Microsoft NHS Resource Centre