Windows 7 Review: Seven Reasons Windows 7 Could be a Success/Failure

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I got my first look at Windows 7 this week and my initial reaction was "so far, so good."

"So far" being the key phrase of that statement.

New operating systems (Microsoft officially releases Windows 7 on Oct. 22) are almost always an improvement, and will almost always generate some sort of enthusiasm or buzz within the first couple months.  

But until the user sits down and gets a feel for what a new OS is all about (outside the VirtualBox), you're not going to understand the product's deficiencies ... or its notable improvements.

The reality being you need at least 4-6 months under your belt before you can conclude how successful an OS is for you. And that's the bottom line, how successful is this system to you and your work environment?

Case in point:

In Janurary 2007, Walt Mossberg, a Wall Street Journal tech writer and authority on tech reviews, noted that after "months of testing Vista on multiple computers, new and old, I believe it is the best version of Windows that Microsoft has produced."

Fast forward to last week, and Mossberg referred to that same OS as "little-loved Windows Vista, which did a lot to harm both the company's reputation, and the productivity and blood pressure of its users."

Mossberg concludes that "after using pre-release versions of Windows 7 for nine months, and intensively testing the final version for the past month on many different machines, I believe it is the best version of Windows Microsoft (MSFT) has produced."

Sound familiar?

Only time will tell if Windows 7 is a win for Microsoft. In the meantime, here are seven reasons Windows 7 could be a success ... followed by seven reasons it could fail.


Performance, performance, performance: If the pre-release versions are any indication (I tested Windows 7 Ultimate, Build 7100), Windows 7 supposedly outperform Vista in the speed department. This is music to my ears, as I don't need another sluggish OS.  Vista  is a resource hog and a half,  and I need a system that isn't going to fold under the pressure of today's multimedia needs.

I'm warning you: Yeah, I use Vista on my home machine, and those nagging security warnings can drive you batty. If I see one more "User Account Control" message after Oct. 22, I might just lose it and go buy a Mac.

New taskbar: Finally, a user-friendly taskbar that previews what you're doing. Wonder where they got that idea? Speaking of Macs, some folks even think Windows 7's taskbar is better than Mac's OS X Dock. I don't know about that, but it's better than nothing.

Jump around: The addition of Jump Lists is a plus for me, giving multi-taskers a list of their most frequently visited sites, recently opened files, helping you find what you're looking for in half the time. It's like having Xobni for all of your applications.

Cheaper is better: Windows 7 won't cost you an arm and a leg, and in this economy, that's a good thing. In fact, PC prices are reportedly down with the release of Windows 7.

Touch features: I'm not really a touchy feely guy, but if you want to go the touchscreen route, Windows 7 and many of its components can be touch enabled, too.

UI improvements: While Windows 7 still looks very, very Vista-like, there have been some nice improvements to the interface. Aero Peek, for example, allows you to hide all of your open windows and navigate straight to the desktop by hovering over a button on your taskbar. It leaves outlines of the windows you were working on, so you can quickly recover windows or cycle through them with the Alt-tab. Along with Aero Peek, there are a handful of other UI improvements, shortcuts and personalizations that can be found in the taskbar, Control Panel, or by right-clicking the Desktop and going to the Personalize tab.  


Vista 2.0: While Microsoft is billing Windows 7 as an OS that "simplifies your PC," many analysts -- such as the Gartner Group -- are calling it something else: "Windows 7 is not a major architectural release. It's a polishing of Windows Vista."

It is what it is, an evolution of Windows Vista, not a revolutionary new OS that's going to completely change everyone's outlook of Microsoft.  Windows users are going to stick with Windows 7. Mac users are going to stick with Snow Leopard -- unless compatibility and data loss issues continue to rise.  

What version was that? While versioning makes sense to an extent for an OS, or for suites and major app bundles, there are times when companies go a little overboard. With four editions and counting, Windows 7 isn't exactly abiding by the tagline "Windows 7 can help simplify just about everything you do."  Windows 7 Starter. Windows 7 Home Premium. Windows 7 Professional. Windows 7 Ultimate. I don't even know where to start anymore. I guess I'll just go with the edition that has the most checkboxes.

XP upgrade pains: While upgrading from Vista to Windows 7 is supposed to be a snap (even if you buy a new machine with Vista on it in the next few weeks), a large percentage of Windows users (on XP) have no easy way to upgrade to the new OS. If you use XP, you essentially have to wipe your hard drive clean to upgrade. Ouch. That Easy Transfer Wizard Windows 7 touts? It's only "easy" for your files. Your apps, and all the patches and upgrades you've added over the years, have to be reinstalled.

Give it the boot: While Windows 7 is supposed to outperform Vista in the speed department, some reports claim otherwise. If this study holds true, and Windows 7's boot time is considerably slower than Vista, I will be very sad.  

Security risks: With new operating systems comes new security risks, and while Microsoft appears to have done a decent job of locking down this OS, it can't afford major security issues. Windows 7's initial release needs to be as close to bullet-proof as a new OS can be. The general public shouldn't have to wait until Windows 7 SP1 to pull the trigger on a new OS.

Driver issues: Another issue that hurt Vista's cause was the driver debacle. When I first installed Vista, it was incompatible with nearly all of my go-to applications ... and I had plenty of hardware issues along the way as well. Those concerns have been addressed by now, and it sounds like there won't be as many driver issues with Windows 7, but I'll believe it when I see my next printer auto install without any issues.

Win over the tech world: The biggest hurdle for Windows 7 will be winning over the tech community at large. If IT departments feel Windows 7 is a liability, like many felt Vista was, it could cripple Microsoft. Marketing, media reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations could make or break Windows 7.  


All in all, Windows 7 appears to be a solid-performing OS, although, I can see why some have called it the "Windows Vista Service Pack."

It doesn't feel all that different from Vista to me, it just cuts out some of the annoyances, gives the administrator more options, and improves the UI for general users. All of which are wins for Windows fans.

Is it enough to convert Apple users? Probably not.

But only time will tell, and we'll find out beginning on Oct. 22.


So are you upgrading to Windows 7 when it's released later this month? Add your comments below.
When you get your hands on Windows 7,  write your own review or how-to Article, and head to the Windows 7 Zone to ask or answer questions about the new OS.
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