Given all the feedback that Microsoft has had from Vista users (both negative and positive), could Windows 7 be the best version of Windows yet?
Vista is turning out to be a bit of an enigma. While sales seem strong, users seem far from satisfied with the latest offering from Redmond. Also, while consumers and businesses alike have been eagerly waiting for SP1, it now seems that this won't be enough to quell the constant flow of negativity. If it is true that Microsoft is pulling out the stops to get Windows 7 out of the door and onto PCs are fast as possible, this does seem to suggest that Microsoft is taking this negative feedback seriously and wants to put the Vista mistakes behind it.
If Microsoft has been listening to the feedback, the company will have a pretty good idea of what people thought was wrong with Vista, and this could give the project managers and developers a pretty blueprint for what the next version should be like.
Users disillusioned with Vista need a reason to give Microsoft a second chance.So, if Microsoft has been listening to the feedback, what will Windows 7 be like? Well, first off, Microsoft needs to trim the bloat out of the OS. While Vista can certainly be fast when you throw enough hardware at it, at the lower end of the hardware spectrum it's hard not to start to see problems, and has the focus moves onto cheaper PCs, Microsoft needs to have a flexible platform that can accommodate a broad spectrum for PCs, from high-performance systems to cheap $200-$250 systems.
Secondly, Windows 7 needs to figure out the best way to leverage UAC or totally get rid of it. If you're technically minded UAC shouldn't be a problem, but if you're not then that changes and you end up with an operating system that refuses to work the way you want it to.
Another stumbling block that Vista encountered was hardware and software compatibility. These issues have to be kept to a minimum in the next version if the new OS isn't to attract the same level of criticism. Vendors have to be encouraged to develop drivers rather than expect home and business users to landfill things because of the lack of drivers.
Think about performance and you realize that the main competition that Vista has doesn't come from Mac OS X or Linux, but from Windows XPThen we come onto performance. Think about performance and you realize that the main competition that Vista has doesn't come from Mac OS X or Linux, but from Windows XP. Benchmark after benchmark shows that XP is capable of beating Vista hands down. Vista SP1 does little to address these issues while XP SP3 makes the old OS perform even better.
Another valid criticism of Vista is that of the UI. While the interface undoubtedly looks sexier, that pretty interface doesn't translate into an interface that's better or easier to use. In fact, many claim that the new interface is nowhere near as clear or as easy to use as that of XP. Just redesigning something to look different doesn't automatically mean that it's better.
And then there are the drivers. Microsoft is collecting more and more information about system crashes than ever but we're still seeing drivers causing problems that they were causing a year ago. Either Microsoft isn't using this information effectively or the information isn't trickling down the chain fast enough to the vendors. Good drivers are key to a solid, robust and fast OS and so far the drivers that I'm coming across for Vista just aren't up to scratch.
Then there are all the features that were dropped from Longhorn during its transformation into Vista. Aero's not really a feature, and neither is security. Microsoft needs to get clear on the tangible benefits that Windows 7 will deliver early on and stick to them.
That's just some of what Microsoft needs to deal with. Whether it will or not will decide what kind of feedback Windows 7 will get.