No doubt, Windows 7 users will find that the latest update to the Microsoft client operating system sucks less than Vista. And so they should after all the time, effort and budget line items put into the fixes (and let's not forget the pain in the user base). One of Apple's latest ads counter by recalling past promises with of Redmond for a better experience, which reminds me of a time when a certain Mac OS also "sucked less."
However, I don't buy Redmond's "Lucky 7" version count.
In the Apple ad, the Windows 7 character transforms into the following previous versions: Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows Me, Windows 95, Windows 2. This leaves Windows 1.0, which totals 7 versions.
I see the count differently than Apple or Microsoft: There can be no dispute until we head past flavors of Windows 3. Here's my list:
Windows 1: Shipped in 1985 and nobody cared. Windows 2: Shipped in 1987 and few cared. Windows 3: Came out in 1990 and PC users cared, especially with Windows 3.1 in 1992 (And I include here the introduction of Windows NT, which I believe was given a 3.x number.) Windows 4: Windows 95. Huge. The last DOS-based version. Windows 5: Windows 2000. The transition to the NT kernel. Windows 6: Windows XP. Still gotta love it. Window 7: Vista. Incorporated a number of Longhorn elements. Windows 7.5: What Microsoft is calling Windows 7.
In the Windows Vista Team blog, Mike Nash says that Windows 7 is called Version 7 for "simplicity."
The decision to use the name Windows 7 is about simplicity. Over the years, we have taken different approaches to naming Windows. We've used version numbers like Windows 3.11, or dates like Windows 98, or "aspirational" monikers like Windows XP or Windows Vista. And since we do not ship new versions of Windows every year, using a date did not make sense. Likewise, coming up with an all-new "aspirational" name does not do justice to what we are trying to achieve, which is to stay firmly rooted in our aspirations for Windows Vista, while evolving and refining the substantial investments in platform technology in Windows Vista into the next generation of Windows.
Simply put, this is the seventh release of Windows, so therefore "Windows 7" just makes sense.
It makes sense to you, Mike. To me and most Vista users, the update is mostly a big batch of fixes bundled with some new features and fixes to the interface outrages of Vista. So, this Windows 7 should be called Windows 7.5.
Version 7 reminds me of the problems faced by Apple and the Mac community with the transition to System 7 back in the early 1990s. FYI: in those days, it wasn't called Mac OS System 7 or Mac OS 7, or whatever; it was just plain System 7. It ran on Macs.
For developers, System 7 was a huge transition, similar to the later transition experienced moving from the Classic Mac OS to the Unix-based Mac OS X. It introduced support requirements for technologies or capabilities that today we would find almost unimaginable to be without:
- The version required a hard disk and needed more memory than the older System 6, which ran in 1MB of RAM (yes, that's "megabyte"). - Support for multitasking with Multifinder became mandatory for programs as was support for "32-bit clean" coding (now we're making the transition to 64-bit computing). Color support was also assumed and required by developers. - System extensions, or "inits" that let developers and users add low-level capabilites at boot time. - Full implementation of a drag-and-drop interface. - Aliases for files, directories, disk volumes, printers and network shares. - File sharing, which was done over an AppleTalk network. - Apple Events and their scripting language, AppleScript, were introduced.
Users found that performance with older hardware suffered. It was a tough time. In a January 1993 special report in MacWEEK, more than a year after release, less than half of machines at subscriber sites had upgraded. Software compatibility was still an issue and hardware upgrade costs constrained adoption. A "Pro" version, System 7.1 wasn't well received.
In the summer of 1994, Apple engineers prepped a major fix. At the Macworld Expo in Boston, I remember walking down the hallway to an Apple insider developer party in a hotel. It was ad hoc, not funded by marketing; a few bowls of potato chips. Yet, like almost everything at Apple then, there was a t-shirt for the event.
It read "System 7.5 sucks less" and "We've upped our standards -- up yours." This was pointed jab at third-party developers. Ouch. Still, a bit defensive.
My guess is that Windows 7 will suck less. Or maybe, Apple is right, we will have to wait for Windows 7.5. Whatever, I'm still staying with Windows XP on my MacBook Pro. The price is right.