Convicted monopolist Microsoft is back in the news for colluding with Intel to sell unsuitable chips for running Vista.

The row centres on 'Vista Capable' labels, apparently used to sell XP-based PCs that weren't up to the job of running Vista's Aero interface before the OS even went on sale. This might sound like old news, but beware: the Microsoft marketing machine has already started on Windows 7. And some cynics, who believe the firm will always put profits before performance, expect more equivocation to come.

This issue, we've been looking at the pre-beta of Windows 7. While the screenshots supplied by Microsoft show an advanced build - one closer to Apple's Mac OS X interface - the build in current circulation more closely resembles the Vista we know and loathe. Read our benchmark findings to see why Windows 7 may be little more than warmed-up Vista in the areas where it matters.

While previous overhauls of Windows have been tacitly exploited as a tool to sell faster and more up-to-date hardware, the public has had enough. For most people who don't routinely transcode HD video, nothing more powerful than a netbook may be necessary. And if Windows 7 turns out to sap the strength of low-power laptops, even more interest will be diverted to Linux and Mac OS alternatives.

It's early days for Windows 7, and maybe it can be slimmed down before its final release. But Apple will by then have let its Snow Leopard into the wild, a refined build of its current Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. Leopard is already a spritely OS, able to run happily on mini laptops such as the MSI Wind. It's only a shame Apple holds such a tight leash on its cats, reserving the OS for its own hardware such as the latest MacBook Pro 2.4GHz.