Hated Vista? Will You Love Windows 7?
Windows Vista may have been the least well received operating system since Microsoft Bob.
While there were many common elements among the reasons people hated Vista, at times it seemed like no matter what the feature, and no matter how it was implemented, someone hated it with the fire of a thousand suns.
So far, Windows 7 has enjoyed a much warmer reception. However, since it is built on top of the Windows Vista architecture, will you love Windows 7, or will you hate it like you hated Vista?
Windows 7 Is Better But … Is It Loveable?
Sure, Windows 7 is better than Windows Vista, how could it not be?
With all the feedback Microsoft received both through normal channels and from unimpressed technology analysts and journalists, just tweaking some of the most bitterly complained about features would have resulted in an operating system considered “better”.
However, businesses, manufacturers, and consumers all want more than just better than Vista.
Does Windows 7 deliver?
Let’s take a look at what Windows 7 has to offer and try to answer the question that’s on everyone’s mind: Why should you upgrade to Windows 7?
Windows 7 Drivers: Fixing What Was Wrong With Vista
It is obvious that, while externally maintaining the facade that Windows Vista was just fine and that users were just misinformed or overly influenced by the initial media coverage, internally, Microsoft was paying attention to what areas people were complaining about.
Number one on this list has to be compatibility, and, more specifically, the availability of fully compatible drivers for a very wide range of devices. In this area, Microsoft, and perhaps the industry in general, have learned some very valuable lessons.
While many office workers burn through scanners and printers as fast as they do through computers and monitors, a much larger number of users do not. For plenty of business users, and virtually all household users, peripherals like scanners and printers simply are not used often enough to justify upgrading hardware.
However, that does not mean that the tasks they are used for are not important to those users. Indeed, the once a month scanning of invoices, may be one of the most critical tasks performed by the computer. Such users were not only mad that their devices were unsupported; they were enraged when told that the solution was to buy a new one.
Worse yet, some users were subjected to the ultimate indignity when the new device they were forced to purchase STILL DIDN’T WORK properly thanks to poorly implement drivers.
This time around, things look different. Perhaps the most important factor is that being built around essentially the same driver technology and model as Vista was, manufacturers have already perfected their driver development processes and simply made the subtle changes required for Windows 7.
Microsoft did not take any chances this time around either. They developed additional compatibility testing tools and made them widely available, not just to key partners, long before the end of the Windows 7 development process.
Windows 7 Speed, Hardware Requirements & Start Up
When first released, Windows Vista’s hardware requirements were eye-popping. Windows 7 has the same minimum hardware requirements as Vista, but today, a gigabyte of RAM is no longer “a lot.” In fact, one issue beginning to become more common among users of the 32-bit Windows XP is that it only supports 4 GB of RAM, a much different concern than when Vista was released.
But, it isn’t just the minimum requirements that had so many users complaining about Vista being a resource hog. Users reported unacceptable speed with Vista. One particular complaint was about the interminable start-up time of Vista. At one point, the grumbling got so bad that some users were considering a class action lawsuit to recover lost wages for the time spent waiting for Vista to boot up.
So … is Windows 7 a speedy booter?
This area seems to get mixed reviews. On my home systems, my more powerful desktop computer seems about the same as booting XP. On the other hand, my older laptop is MUCH slower. Part of this difference can be attributed to the differences in hardware, particularly hard drive speed, which seems to make a big difference in how fast Win 7 loads.
Also with more and more software developers sneaking resource sucking vampire processes into the startup sequence (I’m looking at you Adobe), two users with the same hardware could experience widely different startup times based on what programs they have installed.
However, what is much better in Windows 7 is how it resumes from standby and hibernation. Both Vista and XP seemed to take a long time to resume from their low power states and if resuming meant reconnecting to a network, it was even worse. Some users had to wait so long to reconnect to the network that it would have been faster to reboot.
Windows 7 both resumes and reconnects in snappy fashion.
Windows 7 User Interface and Applications — Why Should I Upgrade?
While Vista’s initial problems were significant, many of them were corrected early on, and even more were eliminated with the release of Service Pack 1, yet Vista could never manage more than lukewarm contempt from users and the press.
One major reason was Microsoft’s decision to force Vista on the public by ending sales of Windows XP. Instead of users clamoring for the latest and greatest technology, major corporations, small businesses, and end-users alike wondered, “What’s in it for me?” For awhile Vista’s improvements in security and stability were significant; users looking at demos or model PCs in the store couldn’t SEE anything that was better enough than XP to make them go through the hassle of having to learn a bunch of new things.
When Microsoft pointed to Aero, consumers rolled their eyes. Themes had been around for a long time in Windows XP, and frankly, after playing with the new novelty for a while, most users had long since returned to the standard default, content to just change their wallpaper from time to time.
Many of the new things that reviewers are crowing about are still small changes. You get a pop-up window screenshot of the application when you mouse over its icon on the task bar which allows you to finally see which one of those all too numerous open apps is the one that you are looking for, for example, but, what about a killer app?
Does Windows 7 have a killer app? In a word, no. But, this time it will all come together for Win7 in a way that it never did for Vista.
1. Easy Migration
First, for companies struggling with budget cuts and a recessionary economy, there is no rush to upgrade to Windows 7. While mainstream support for XP ended in April, 2009, Microsoft will continue to release security updates for the foreseeable future. This is all businesses really want anyway.
Many companies have been removing or blocking any new XP features for some time now because, through various utilities and add-on products, they have gotten Windows XP right where they want it anyway.
That being said, Microsoft has already released numerous new tools and utilities that make migrating to Windows 7 easier in the enterprise. As companies begin to adopt Windows 7, those tools will be refined and improved, making the process less and less painful.
2. Server 2008 R2
Second, the release of Windows Server 2008 R2 marks the maturity of Microsoft’s latest server OS. Numerous features in Server 2008 are on many company’s wish lists. However, some of those features only work with Windows 7, or Vista, but most importantly, not with Windows XP.
Not only that, but some companies are so far behind in their technology update cycles after having cut back following the economy’s problems in the first part of the decade, and then again in order to skip Vista, will be sitting on some very old technology come 2010 and 2011.
3. Easy Home Networking
Finally, for home users, while there is nothing that will elicit oohs and ahhs the second it is turned on, Windows 7 has two aces up its sleeve that will begin to drive home users to actually want Windows 7 over XP. Most importantly, Win7 is much easier to use on home networks and on wireless home networks in particular.
Ever since the home network was first conceived, Windows users have struggled to adapt the corporate networking model built into Windows to work on their small home networks. Just getting those computers to attach to the network and then use the Internet was a big enough nightmare for many that they just stopped there.
However, Windows 7 comes built with the home network in mind. HomeGroup sharing finally gives home users without an MCSE a way to see photos, music, videos, and other files on each other’s computers easily. This will make users actually want to use all those files instead of just storing them.
When they do, they will find a much better Windows Media Player, free of all the junk Microsoft crammed into the last one. WMP 12 will be the media player that finally stops people from thinking that Macs, not PCs are not what you use for videos, music, and photos.
4. Better Media Compatibility
What will really start the ball rolling is WMP’s ability to push media to compatible devices like an Xbox 360 so that you can finally play all of those MP3 files on your computer through your home stereo without having to configure some elaborate technical workaround, buy some sort of media server or burn them all to CDs.
Of course, Macs can do more than just play their MP3 files to a home stereo. That is where what I have nicknamed “The Apple Suite” comes in. The reason many users like Macs is because they come with software to play with photos, movies, and music files built in. That makes it easier to do these fun tasks, and therefore makes Macs seem “easier to use.”
Microsoft has been gun-shy about adding new software to Windows after overplaying its hand with Internet Explorer and bullying innovator Netscape right off the map. Fortunately, it seems that Redmond has found a solution.
Windows Live Essentials provides an array of the same type of programs that come on those shiny Apple computers. Windows Movie Maker, Windows Photo Gallery and the like are available to everyone with a Windows 7 computer for free. They even come bundled for easy install.
Even better, you can bet that many computer manufacturers will go ahead and install those by default on most of the Windows 7 machines they ship, which means that a lot of Windows users are going to get new computers that come with the same media programs as an Apple already installed. The best part is that since none of it is required, not even the European Union can complain.
As Windows 7 ships, it may not be loved right away, and many users will still find no compelling reason to upgrade their existing computers. However, that was never the important thing.
All that really matters for Microsoft this time around is that nobody howls about getting Windows 7 instead of Windows XP when they buy a new computer. If that happens, everything else will take care of itself as the years pass by and Windows XP looks less and less like the stable OS smart computer users stuck with, and more and more like those old computers that Microsoft used to make.