Is it a major release or just a revamped Windows Vista? That’s the big question surrounding Windows 7, which made its public debut in a keynote address by Steven Sinofsky today at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles.
The Ed Bott Report
Get outspoken insights and expert advice on the products and companies that define today's tech landscape, from a source who knows these technologies inside and out.
Ed Bott is an award-winning technology writer with more than two decades' experience writing for mainstream media outlets and online publications.
Microsoft’s news embargo on Windows 7 lifts tomorrow. Today, though, I can confidently report on a handful of questions about Windows 7 that you won’t see answered in those announcements. Want to know how many editions of Windows 7 will be released? Looking for the ship date? Wondering about whether there will be a public beta? Go ahead and ask. Just don't expect any answers. Yet.
Now that I have a recent-vintage MacBook for testing, I'm finally able to make some head-to-head comparisons between OS X and Vista. Because this system has a mere 1GB of RAM, I was curious to get a sense of how thrifty OS X Leopard is when it comes to memory usage. Vista gets a bad rap for demanding huge amounts of resources. Is that reputation fair or accurate? I put both systems to the test so I could see for myself. The results were surprising.
Through the graces of an anonymous benefactor, I have a recent-vintage white MacBook to use for the next few months. As a newbie Mac user, I paid special attention to Apple’s announcements of new MacBooks last week. And Microsoft paid special attention, too, as I received multiple e-mails from folks in Redmond, who wanted to make sure I know what a great value the PC platform is compared to Apple’s products. Microsoft is peddling a line about an “Apple tax,” but most of those analyses are based on the hardware cost. I’ve been paying close enough attention to know that the differences in price extend over multiple dimensions, far beyond just the initial outlay. So how much is the Apple tax, all told? In my case, it's around $500. Watch me do the math.
It is rare that you get to see a Microsoft executive tap dance and juggle at the same time, but that’s what I felt like as I read one senior executive's attempt to explain why the next version of Windows will be called Windows 7, even though it's technically version 6.1. Unfortunately, the “simple” explanation that follows fails spectacularly when you get to the part that jumps from 6 to 7. So what's really behind the name?
Last week I wondered whether the product currently code-named Windows 7 would get a new name for its release. The answer, made official a few minutes ago, is no. In a post at the official Windows Vista Team Blog, Microsoft VP Mike Nash announced that Windows 7 will in fact be the final name.
The recent collapse of worldwide financial markets has everyone on edge. If you’re like most people, tough times have you looking around at ways to cut back on spending. You might be tempted to impose a freeze on all new purchases of hardware and software, but that draconian strategy only works for so long. Sooner or later, you need to refresh old technology, either because it’s stopped working or is so slow that it’s cramping your productivity. A better strategy, in my experience, is learning to shop smarter. In today’s post, I share some of the secrets I’ve learned about how to get great PC hardware and software without breaking the bank.
Ask any Windows pundit about all the different versions of Windows Vista that Microsoft offers and you’ll invariably get the same response. There are too many! Consumers are confused! It all needs to be simplified! To which I say: Be careful what you wish for. The case for reducing the number of Windows versions to one or two sounds convincing in the abstract, but the argument breaks down quickly once you start to examine the details and consider how such a change would affect the way you and I buy Windows on consumer and business PCs. For starters, would you be willing to pay 17.5% more for an entry-level PC? That's just one of the problems with this idea.
Who’s buying new PCs with Windows Vista Home Basic? Judging by the name, you’d assume those OS editions would be loaded on underpowered machines for starving students and penny-pinching families. But you’d be wrong. Based on my observations of the PC market over the past year or two, I think consumers have rejected Home Basic in favor of Home Premium. But small, budget-conscious businesses have embraced the low-end OS. In one large sample I looked at, nearly three out of every five machines destined for small business included Windows Vista Home Basic. Small-business buyers are apparently able to look past that name, and PC makers are happy to accommodate them. I've got the details on this apparent trend.
I’m reading more and more about Windows 7 lately as PDC approaches and Microsoft begins revealing more snippets of information about its most secretive product ever. In most of that coverage, I've noticed an assumption that Windows 7 is going to be the final name of the product. I’ve been guilty of leaping to that conclusion myself. But a reader asked the other day why Microsoft is calling it Windows 7, and as I worked on my response to that question, it struck me that it’s entirely possible, even likely, that the next release of Windows will get a new name before it hits the streets. Keep reading, and I’ll give you a chance to compare your prediction with mine.