At a press event in San Francisco on Tuesday, Microsoft and Intel highlighted how their decades-long partnership has most recently yielded performance and battery-life improvements in the upcoming Windows 7. According to the companies, Windows 7-based notebook PCs will see 10 to 20 percent better battery life than identical machines running Windows Vista. The new systems will also boot up much more quickly, often in as little as 11 seconds.

"We both made a larger investment than ever before on the engineering side to improve on the hardware and software," Microsoft General Manager Mike Anguilo said. This close collaboration led to an OS that, unlike Vista, was something "they are proud of."

At the event, to highlight the differences, Microsoft demonstrated Windows 7 and Vista running on identical laptops. A Lenovo ThinkPad was running at a rate that would see a bit over 4 hours of battery life, while Windows 7 running on the same machine would obtain about 5.5 hours of battery life.

The power savings and performance advances will result in a number of real-world improvements, Microsoft noted. For example, users will see longer DVD playback times on notebook computers. And improvements to the system's support for multiple cores in modern PCs mean that processor-intensive tasks such as video encoding won't hamper performance, as in the past.

Of course, PC makers can and will screw up Windows 7's performance by tacking on unnecessary crapware applications that slow boot time and, in many cases, duplicate functionality already provided by Windows but with PC maker branding. Microsoft and Intel acknowledged this problem but said that the gains in Windows 7 were real; it's simply up to the PC makers not to ruin the experience.

"The final choice of what is on the retail shelf is something the \[PC makers\] will configure," Microsoft Program Manager Ruston Panabaker said. "But what we showed today was real capability in actual scenarios."