Windows 7: The Anti-Vista?

Windows 7: The Anti-Vista?

Summary: Can Microsoft make everyone happy with Windows 7? Should it even try? What would you do, if you were on the team that's charged with "Shipping Seven"?


Even with Windows Vista's one-year anniversary launch just a week away, all that anyone in the tech-enthusiast community seems to want to talk about is Windows 7 (Except for those who are already sick of hearing about 7, as one Windows user characterized himself in a conversation I had yesterday.)

There are Windows 7 screen shots, Windows 7 videos, Windows 7-Windows Live-integration to-do lists. And of course, there is the infamous Milestone 1 (M1) Windows 7 build out there, with M2 and M3 successors due out later this year, if rumored roadmaps are to be believed.

Some pundits believe Microsoft is trying to stoke the Windows 7 fires to "build excitement" for its next Windows release. I don't think this is the case at all. I think Microsoft wants to smother the Windows 7 flames and to dampen expectations as much as possible.

Because Microsoft won't talk about Windows 7, I can't quote any Microsoft representatives on what they are planning, thinking and hoping regarding Windows 7.

My opinion? The Softies want Windows 7 to be the anti-Vista. That is not a put-down of Vista, which may not be selling at two times the rate XP did -- but which still is selling strongly enough to boost Microsoft's Q2 FY 2008 client-division revenues by more almost 70 percent.

But Microsoft's brass do want to avoid a lot of the pitfalls that it encountered with Windows Vista -- and who can blame them? They want Windows 7 to be on-time, not polluted by feature-bloat and not overly ambitious. They want the Windows 7 betas to be near-feature-complete the first time that the majority of testers get builds. And most of all, they want Windows 7 to be a predictable, familiar, relatively minor upgrade. Should that take four years (counting from the fall 2006 Vista release-to-manufacturing date) to Microsoft's stated 2010 Windows 7 ship target to deliver? Probably not; Windows 7 in 2009 looks like a realistic possibility.

All this is not to say the Softies won't throw in a fun user-interface tweak and a couple nice-to-have improvements to keep Windows 7 from being a total yawn. That said, in the business market, a yawn is preferable to a bunch of incompatible drivers and apps....

But Microsoft is in a tricky spot. Apple can put consumers front and center when it designs a new operating system. But Microsoft needs to strike a balance between creating an operating system that appeals to both business users and consumers. If Microsoft only had to appease business users with Windows 7, a minor, no frills point-release update would be perfect. But it also has to fend off Mac OS X with Windows 7 on the retail front.

Can Microsoft make everyone happy with Windows 7? Should it even try? What would you do, if you were on the team that's charged with "Shipping Seven"?

Topics: Operating Systems, Microsoft, Software, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • I would offer one version only of Windows 7

    However on initial startup I would allow the owner to pick and choose what he/she/IT
    wanted. Both the consumer and the business would be allowed to desgn the OS that
    best matches their needs and don't be shocked in you find more individuality within
    businesses than anyone previously assumed to be true.

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
    • That'll be the day.

      I couldn't agree with you more but I can't see Microsoft ever doing this unless sales for the so called Ultimate version of Vista are really bad. (One can always hope.) Or maybe a class action lawsuit for misleading advertising will convince them too. But I won't hold my breath.
      • Vista is already like that.

        The same software is on every install DVD and you get to choose which version you want by putting in a different product key.
        quite simple actually. <br>
        Of course you have to pay for it, like any other product on the market and Microsoft doesn't lie about what version you are getting like Apple. <br>
        Apple advertises Leopard as a full 64 bit OS when in fact that is an outright lie and it's only partial 64 bit, with the kernel being 32 bit. That is how they can advertise the "Magic" of running 32 bit drivers natively, while lying to you about why that is. <br><br>
        Their advertising is loaded with lies and misrepresentation as well but as long as the mighty Microsoft that is so evil, compared to the Cupertino do-no-evil gang, is in the picture, nobody is going to bother starting a clas action suit on poor little Apple that still makes only publishing specific machines, according the to EU commisioned think tank in 2007. <br><br>
        I think Apple hardware is nice equipment, it's equivilent to higher end PCs of today, usually a nice chunk of change more than the PC for the very same components across the board (no pun intended). Their software is behind windows in security and all around abilities but then it was designed (as Apple zealots have said themselves) as an OS to give the hardware a way to run and basic functionality for the user. In a way, it's like the software PC OEMs add to PCs for added value. Same league of software craftsmanship. But Apple has demonstrated it has no more ethics than anyone and uses misleading advertising time and time again. That is what I dislike about Apple. With Windows, I know what I'm getting and there are no secrets hidden on board they may charge me for latter, like the 802.11n support. And i know they wont charge me for service packs every year like clockwork. Another great example of Apple's ability to charge customers for something that is worthless, is the 20.00 ipod touch update. If you've not seen this one, or you don't feel it's as close to a geek tax as it can get, then I have to be missing some key functionality.
        • XP64 for example?

          "Apple advertises Leopard as a full 64 bit OS when in fact that is an outright lie and it's only partial 64 bit, with the kernel being 32 bit. That is how they can advertise the "Magic" of running 32 bit drivers natively, while lying to you about why that is."

          This is somehow preferable to XP64 which, was built on a completely different code base to XP, and years after it's release I still find that none of the peripherals I had when I bought it work, and almost none of the games I owned when I bought it will run? In fact, most of the games released SINCE then wont run properly still either.
          • I prefer XP x64...

            Too bad about the games but I don't need any drivers. I've got all I need on my HP laptop anyway. I'm not a gamer but I would sure like XP to overshadow Vista; it has many of the same security features Server 2003 has and I've found it extremely robust and has unbelievable recovery features. I am still finding advantages every day that bowl me over, but I don't have that much server experience so bear with me.

            Maybe if we started a community and put pressure on the game coders; they would come around to XP x64! More sales of Xp x64 would help; but its a chicken or the egg scenario for sure. If more people would order the free 180 trial CD from Microsoft; perhaps the stats would get up as far as the Redmond Ivory Tower or even the game companies; if they even pay attention.
          • M$ SHOULD MAKE....

            Microsoft should make the new OS 100% backward compatible with 32bit apps as well as have a few choices during the install. Perhaps the level of bloat from 1~10 Bloat: how must flashy visual stupidity the user is subjected too before he/she can actually do what the turn the flippin? PC on to do. Like 1 GByte in use to run the OS just to launch and use a 7 MByte app like excel. We don?t care that the OS will "stun and Amaze you with a visual mosaic" of fluff while you wait for the program to actually finish loading so you can type a "quick" email.

            I, and I can assure you, along with most businesses, would like nothing more flashy than the app to start fast with no frills.

            Sense a theme here M$ ? LOOSE THE BLOAT !!!
          • So far...

            I've been able to get most worthwhile 32bit apps to work on my x64 installation. If not I would just download VM for windows and virtualize it.

            I notice I still get error messages but the application works anyway, so I just ingnore the error messages.

            Some of the best are open source 32 bit utilities.

            I have a system folder that contains the words "WOW" and "64" somewhere in there, and I think that is the built in compatibility factor for this go around in Windows 6x
          • Try Server 2003 x64 drivers for your game unit

            - if you can find them - I have found cross reference driver files for similar machines, or internal components that were made for workstations or servers that work on XP x64, and work very well. I assume you have already checked with the Planet64 site as they have many on file there.

            XP x64 is based on the same code or NT version as Server 2003. I also don't mind strong arming OEM vendors for individual component drivers for XP or Server 2003 x64 drivers and have had some success! They don't like making these drivers readily available, probably because Microsoft doesn't want them to! They would like XP to go away, I'm sure!
          • XP64 Is A Good Example

            I agree with Greg. It's too bad that the superior code from XP64 was ignored by both users and both hardware and software manufacturers. Demand always rules the investment bucks.
            Desert Dave
          • Xp X64 I love it!!!

            Only a few programs need to be run on XP Home such as my Avermedia PCMCIA card for loading movies off of my camcorder but I used a driver search program which updated all of my drivers to full compliance...even my HP all in one works now. I love the security that 64 bit IE offers...virtually virus proof and I use Avast Home (freeware) antivirus and have yet to be a matter of fact, I have been running the evaluation edition of XP X64 since it came out...I simply reinstall the OS every 120 keeps my computer clean and fast by reinstalling the os every few months. Just like taking your car in for a tuneup. Ive learned what software I really need and simply go down the list on a DVD.

            This is a real winner and I know a lot of others love this OS above all other offerings from MS.
          • I've been running Avira x64 and like it so far..

            It found a not-yet-installed malware file(32 bit partition) that Avast missed; I'm sure Avast finds some files/maybe more files that Avira though, I just like the interface and extra features.

            Comodo Firewall Pro has been working impressively well so far too.

            My laptop seems like it has been in super turbo mode every since I installed XP x64 on it! If I just had the money to buy the matching 1Gb RAM stick so my memory performance was maximized I probably would not believe it was real!
          • There is no malware for Solaris. Better use it than Win X64.

            And Avira is really a weak antivirus, be it free or not. Free cuireit.exe from is many times more effective (it gives no realtime protection but scans perfectly).
          • @orlusha - good project for some day...

            If a person can do a trail that is.
          • Yeesh!

            You actually [i]enjoy[/i] wasting a day to reinstall Windows every 6
            months? That's one reason I abandoned Windows.
          • He's using the trial copy. Wake up, smell the coffee! (NT)

          • Well, You want to have "64" and to be proud with this?!

            Really, there is such a lot of shit added into MS's x64 codebase that it should be simply thrown away at once. You see, UNLIKE OPEN 32-BIT WIN32 PLATFORM, WIN64 IS CLOSED: full-path DRM, signed applications, signed drivers etc. It is called "pseudo-security": when the platform is INSECURE BY DESIGN (like all M$ and Symbian platforms), restricting user capabilities by THOSE ALLOWED BY OS VENDOR works AGAINST THE USER -- and does not improve the security at all... M$, like Nokia, wants money for signing applications that otherwise may "violate smb's copyright regarding premium multimedia content" -- it means when there is NO REAL MARKET MECHANISM TO FORM AN AFFORDABLE PRICE on content "market" we'll ptotect the market trolls and wolves and their superprofits and momopolistic rent. Well, but SHOULD A USER PAY FOR YPOUR EFFORTS TO DO SO? OR SHOULD A USER PAY FOR COMPUTING RESOURCES GORGED BY THESE "CONTENT PROTECTION SYSTEMS"??? Or all this is simply MONOPOLISTIC RACKET??? If they called this "an information society", we DO NOT need such society where a thousand of trust copyrightholders backed by bad laws compete in racketing money from our pocket for their "intellectual property" that is stolen from society!!!
          • Some of us use software that is optimized using...

            hugh RAM resources. Does your Solaris have performance features that motivate one to migrate to it? Can one use virtualization for applications that won't run on that platform.

            I know it has been around for ever; but I know very little about it. If you don't answer - I will assume Solaris is not really a viable alternative; and I will also allow myself to believe none of your points ar valid either.
          • This is nothing new

            Remember when Apple came out chanting that they were selling the first ever personal computer based on RISC technology? They had to back away from that claim when poor little Acorn pointed out that they had RISC chips in their Archimedes machines (hugely popular in Europe and the Far-East at the time), and their OS was actually called RISCOS!
        • Missed the point

          xuniL_z: Either you missed the point of the previous post or I did.

          This discussion is about W7 and Vista. I don't care about Apple. I don't care if Apple lies. What I care about is that I can not fully trust Microsoft.

          As to what I believe to be the point of the previous poster, Vista was released and (1) you had to buy a bunch more hardware to support it and (2) you had to throw away a bunch of hardware and accessories that once worked perfectly!

          There were no drivers on the DVD to support older printers and scanners and the printer/scanner manufacturers said they weren't supporting Vista. My mother can't use her perfectly good accessories because she got Vista.

          As with most people, one of my next IT projects is to nuke my Mother's Vista and reload XP. (I did my sister's already.)

            That's why Sun opened or opens ALL their source codes.

            M$ thinks that its users are vendor locked enough to continue taking away their money even for non-compatible systems like Win-X64. I'm sure they are mistaken taking all us for sheep.