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Windows 7: Not Quite The Change We Need

A year ago, I wouldn't have predicted that I'd be reviewing a public beta test of Windows Vista's replacement this week. And yet here I am, assessing Windows 7 in today's column.

windows_7_desktop.jpg

Microsoft deserves some congratulations for moving forward this quickly on Vista's successor. But the speed with which the company has brought Windows 7 to beta status itself constitutes the strongest evidence that 7 won't provide any drastic break from Windows as we've known it.

(Bear in mind that while I don't love Vista, I don't hate it or prefer XP over it; I think all of these Windows releases have serious problems, some more serious than others.)

The interface improvements that Microsoft has been showing off since last fall represent welcome changes. The new taskbar tiles both leave more room to display open applications and eliminate the redundant "Quick Launch" toolbar. 7's practice of providing access to recently-opened files via pop-up menus from those taskbar buttons and Start menu items looks likely to be the Windows 7 feature that I'll miss most when I'm not using this operating system. And the new gesture-based windows management tricks sure do make for an impressive demo.

Plus, I will never complain too much about an operating-system update that uses less memory than its predecessor.

But other changes in Windows 7 look like they'll only complicate matters. I don't get the "Libraries" concept, for instance; hasn't Windows provided specifically-named "documents," "pictures," "music" and "videos" folders for most of the past decade precisely to group your files by type? Why do we need yet another set of folders to sort our documents, pictures, music and videos?

Windows 7's "homegroup" feature seems even more impractical. The idea of declaring a new "standard" that only works in the very latest version of Windows exhibits the sort of kooky arrogance that I thought Microsoft had left behind after its antitrust settlement. Put another way, can't this company do better than to provide a (sort of) zero-configuration home-file-sharing scheme with such restrictive system requirements when an open standard allowing about the same thing has existed for over a decade and has been supported in a competing operating system since 2002?

windows_7_library.jpg

Microsoft's decision to remove most of Vista's accessory programs also puzzles me. Why yank the e-mail (e-mail!), photo-album, instant-messaging, calendar and address-book applications, but keep the usual folder's worth of games and both WordPad and Notepad (which is itself joined by a Sticky Notes applet)? It's less than clear what kind of rationale Microsoft used before voting some of these programs off the island. Also unclear: how many inexperienced or nervous users will bother downloading the replacements Microsoft offers at its Windows Live site.

And many of the things I didn't like in Vista when I first reviewed it and when I took a second look at it a year later--not to mention the items many of you have complained about here--show no signs of departing Windows 7.

To fix those deeper-seated ailments, however, Microsoft would have had to put in a lot more than two years of work. We might not be able to try out Vista's replacement for another year or two--but at that point, we might see a dramatically improved operating system that could never be mistaken for a Service Pack update to Vista. That's the question I want to put to you: Are you happy to get 7's bundle of evolutionary upgrades to Vista this soon, or would you rather wait longer for a revolutionary improvement to Windows?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  January 29, 2009; 10:38 AM ET
Categories:  Windows  
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Comments

You asked, "Are you happy to get 7's bundle of evolutionary upgrades to Vista this soon, or would you rather wait longer for a revolutionary improvement to Windows?"

My answer is neither - I switched over to Macs and OS X last year after using IBM compatible PCs since 1985. Macs and OS X just work. A friend of mine bought a Dell laptop with Vista on it last month. When he booted it up FOR THE FIRST TIME, one of the installed programs crashed and another one complained it was was not compatible with Vista.

Forget that - none of those problems with my Macs. They just work.

Posted by: Alexander6 | January 29, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I like the quick launch bar.
It is not redundant if it saves doing mouse actions (and you can easily right-click and uncheck "Show Quick Launch" if you don't want it).

I like explorer in XP (or windows 98) with it's always showing customizable toolbar(forward, back, cut, copy, paste), and the same folders/drives in the left pane, not whatever folders microsoft thinks I should care about at the moment.

I never use "my documents", "my music", etc, and have no interest in seeing them to the left, I want to see my drives (My Computer expanded).

Unless I can do all of that I will stay with XP for the next five years.

Posted by: buckdharma | January 29, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Wow alot of complaining about small things.

First you complain about unnessary things then you complain that MS took many unnecessary things away.

As for readers like Alex that throw you yet another sales picthc for OSX, the reaon for getting MS or MS 64 bit operating systems is that things JUST WORK with windows only.

While MS has made changes for the better, asked users what they want and what they don't, Apple has ignored users and taken away vital usability.

Has anyone take a look at Vista's media center versus Apple's? Its a joke of a comparison. Has anyone asked a professional why they are using MS for Adobe, 3ds max, autocad because they can run those programs in 64 bit that they cant on OSX?!

As for crashes with Vista, those have almost always been attested to users being boneheads and installing programs not made for vista, hardware not made for vista (drivers for XP) and done in-place upgrades.

OSX is simple, for the simple, and simply sucks if you want to do more advanced tasks or broaden your horizons with alternative hardware. OSX has kernel panic attacks ( love the personality Apple gives its problems - like the original upside down happy face when something breaks).

Don't buy the hype, just buy what works for you.

As for removing outlook express, no one uses that! And the photo album, not sure why. But I have a sneaking suspicion that every time MS tries to add things, they get sued. So now they just have to advertise these FREE downloads with their LIV packages. Probably something they are going to do but this is still a beta !!!!
OMFG do reviewers ever think about that ever?!?


Posted by: jabberwolff | January 29, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Good overview. I agree, especially about the Homegroup fiasco. Eventually the XP boxes will go away, but not any time soon.

I know I am not going to replace my other three XP PCs (wife, kids, work laptop), just to share files with a Vista/7 PC. At least MS was smart enough to open up the beta test to millions of interested folks. One would hope they listen to the feedback.

I would ask the Apple fanboys to try to find brand new dual core computers with all the bells/whistles for $400, not to mention the thousands of useful, free programs available. Apple makes mistakes as well, and they seem happy with their little Unix/Linux based niche, however it is iTunes, iPods and the music store that is keeping Apple alive. In the bang for the buck catagory, they will always be second place.

Posted by: BetaTester | January 29, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

@jabberwolf
The kernel panic isn't Mac, it's Unix. Under the hood, the Mac is a Unix box. The only kernel panic I've seen on a Mac was using Boot Camp. Seen lots on Linux, but I use to build my own kernels there.

Rob:
Does anyone still use WordPad? As a developer I use notepad frequently. Have shortcuts to that and the calculator (which does hex and boolean) on the desktop.

Posted by: wiredog | January 29, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I can now safely say that 100% of my encounters with Mac and Unix fan bois comes from clicking on a link about Vista or Windows 7.

Why in the name of Gordon Moore do these cultists think I want to read about Ubuntu in a Vista \ windows 7 blog posting??

Ubuntu is cute and fun. Super! I have a PC at home with Ubuntu on it that never gets turned on because it's a time hole.

Mac OS is just great! For my whacky aunt to forward me urban myth e mails. Other than that, a support headache at work. It's users don't seem to think work security rules apply to them.

Vista has been great on the personal machines I help support. Looking forward to playing with 7.

Thanks, Rob. The comments section of your print story today has turned into a Jonestown like meeting of cultists...

Posted by: JkR- | January 29, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Evolution before revolution. Breaking that rule is what got Vista into trouble.

They had:
New GUI
New search
New Process management subsystem
new Memory management subsystem
New security mechanisms
totally revamped driver infrastructure
5 or 6 tiers for the OS (Ultimate/home basic)

This confused consumers
confused developers and software shops
confused marketing
complicates the hell out of a patch

Now, look at the transition from 3.1 to 95. Runaway success! Whole new front end, basic multi-tasking functionality @ the OS level. Still at it's core 16 bits (because of vxd's I have christened it a '24 bit' OS)
98 and ME same front end, sad attempts at bug fixing and security

2k -- solid NT core, actual user grade interfacing (remember new hardware installs in NT?). 2k was a great success in the bussiness world.

Notice the evolution? Then came XP. new front end, pro v home (tiering). Both home and bussiness now on solid NT core. Also a sucessful launch

vista came in 5 years late and tried to change everything all at once.

Posted by: chritipurr | January 29, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand all the fuss about Windows 7.

Windows 7 seems a blatant copy of KDE, which is one of the two Linux desktops. Take a look on the screenshots:

http://www.kde.org

That's Windows 7, but one year earlier -- and free.

Posted by: obviocapitao | January 29, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

While i agree with just about everything you said. I do not agree with your comment about the quicklaunch bar. It is a convinient way to keep your most commonly used applications handy. Fewer mouse clicks means more productivity.

What is the alternative? Start>all programs>search through a 100 apps till i find the one i am looking for? Or how about minimize all then search my desktop for the app that i need after windows has magically refreshed and resorted my desktop icons?

My point is...why go to such lengths to remove a feature that seems so easy to keep. Just give users the option to remove it if desired.

I realize it can be opened in windows 7 through a series of steps but why make it difficult just for the sake of change?

Posted by: had12mny | January 29, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

@obviocapitao
There's a heck of a lot more than 2 X Windows desktops.

Oh, and Win 7 looks like a ripoff of MacOS X, which is over a year old.

Posted by: wiredog | January 29, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

That should read "Linux desktops" not windows. Though, come to think of it, KDE runs on Windows.

Posted by: wiredog | January 29, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Rob, love that you poke so many holes in a beta version of the software. There appear to be only relatively small areas that you can find fault, and if that is the case, then Windows 7 will be a hit! Your bias against Microsoft oozes through the review.

Posted by: CMan62 | January 29, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Fanbois or not, the reality is M$'s products of late have been bombing crashing bloated nightmares that seem determined to interfere with -- rather than enhance or ease -- workflow.

Also, for those who favor real work, eyecandy like the Dock or Taskbar or whatnot doesn't help: install a launcher like Quicksilver or Launchy and never look at your desktop, again. Bonus: turn off as much visual crap as you can and see how much more smoothly your machine will function.

And the reason, people, that companies release betas (ok, companies other than Google) is to solicit exactly the sort of criticism Rob's given; our hope is the company/ies will LISTEN TO the 'plaints and implement changes to address them.

Christ, you're all a bunch of whiners, rushing to defend poor M$ or your own fragile hold on reality ("Vista IS good, no, really, I know this to be true... THEY hate you but not me, my Precious...") or mouth-breathing sots who don't realize KDE was written to look like Windows, not the other way around.

It's just a review, people. DEAL WITH IT.

Posted by: Bush--notrelated | January 29, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Rob, I'm surprised you don't know why Mail etc. was left out of Win 7. Haven't you noticed that every time the European Union needs some operating capital they go after Microsoft for putting something 'anticompetitive' in Windows (the latest thing being Internet Explorer) and hope that they can suck a big bucks fine out of MS?

Besides the applets left out can all be had as part of Windows Live for free (you can use the latest incarnation of Windows Live Mail for more than just Hotmail and MSN accounts). I know that's not for everybody, but there are other free choices available.

I've had no problem sharing files between 3 different computers, one with XP one with Vista and one with the Win 7 beta. Anything I had previously shared on the XP and Vista boxes showed up in Nework in Win 7 and are available to me. I didn't set up a Homegroup. But I can see where it would be much easier for those who don't really understand things like permissions and what not.

You seem to be alone on the 'Libraries' issue, most reviewers seem to like the idea. I'll keep my mind open until I've used Win 7 for a while.

One last thing, I generally like the new taskbar except for the fact that you can't pin batch files to it (I have a couple I use often and do have them in the Quick Launch area in Vista). Nor can you pin MS-DOS programs to the taskbar--don't laugh, I have an MS-DOS program I still use that works just fine for what I need it to do and there isn't an adequate Windows replacement.

Posted by: frank_s3 | January 29, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

@jabberweasel: "OSX is simple, for the simple, and simply sucks if you want to do more advanced tasks or broaden your horizons with alternative hardware."

Oh. I see. A power user who thinks the MS-DOS command line kicks the pants off of a UNIX shell?

Bye bye credibility :)

Look, Windows will be technologically inferior under the hood as long as it uses its own kernel. If you're a REAL power user who wants advanced control over the system and maximum flexibility in terms of hardware, you'll go with Linux. Otherwise you're just a Windows fanboy.

(Take with a grain of salt -- I'm half kidding here.)

Posted by: jamshark70 | January 29, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

I actually use the quick launch bar a lot too.

But in answer to Rob's question, I would have preferred a longer wait for a more revolutionary OS. I, like Rob, don't like or hate vista. So I'm certainly not going to run out and buy Windows 7 when every review I've read of it has joked that it should be called Vista Service Pack 2. I do hope they do something about windows wireless though. It works terribly for me when I go to school, somebody's apt or move between ethernet and wifi. Almost always have to reboot.

But I don't care about OSs very much, I'll just get whatever the current one is when I buy my next PC in 3 or 4 years.

Posted by: Booyah5000 | January 29, 2009 11:53 PM | Report abuse

At least the screen shots of KDE looked interesting, but did I misunderstand that KDE will run on multiple OSs, or will it just run programs from multiple OSs, like maybe Office, WP, etc?

Posted by: brucerealtor@gmail.com | January 30, 2009 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Sorry about that guf, but I guess that KDE runs on a number of Linix OSs [?], meaning [?] that it will run programs for apps designed for other ISs [?]?

Posted by: brucerealtor@gmail.com | January 30, 2009 12:17 AM | Report abuse

Designed by engineers, for engineers. The next generation won't be built until Microsoft hires PEOPLE to assist in the human engineering interface. Until then, we are all stuck.

Posted by: nihao1 | January 30, 2009 2:05 AM | Report abuse

Give me '98!

Posted by: gogonzo | January 30, 2009 2:29 AM | Report abuse

The new Windows 7 taskbar allows you to dock items to the taskbar, combining the features of both the normal taskbar as well as the Quick Launch. To add the toolbar back, you’ll want to right-click on an open area of the taskbar, and choose Toolbars \ New Toolbar from the menu. You should probably also unlock the taskbar at this point. Now’s the slightly tricky part… you’ll want to paste the following path into the location bar: %appdata%\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch

Posted by: apokryph | January 30, 2009 2:41 AM | Report abuse

Ubuntu , a time hole?
I havent noticed, cd burning excellent , virus rejection? excellent , speed of new rollouts ? excellent! I keep windows around to write VB6. Soon I wont need to do that. linux is catching up fast and will soon pass windows in ease of use and functionality. It already beats it on cost and robustness.

Posted by: vze4k4bh | January 30, 2009 2:45 AM | Report abuse

I am not a computer guru , never studied computer's in school but I have used most of the MS OSystems and right now I have W-7 and I cannot see buying it over Vista. There are many drivers that work with Vista that WILL not work with ( 7 ) . For a novice computer operator it is harder to find some things than even Vista. I have two Vista , one with W-7, one with XP and one 2000 Pro. I think they should wait till they get a better OS before they put this overloaded, over done system on the market. Too many folders way too much decideing for the user. Put more ways to take out the stuff we do not want. I think we need just a basic OS, without all the fancy stuff. The basic Vista is better than W-7 in a lot of ways unless you get a computer loaded with it by HP or someone else, where they put in all their junk. I think MS just wants to SELL us a new system regardless. It's all about money from what I have seen so far.

Posted by: Shamus11 | January 30, 2009 2:50 AM | Report abuse

I'm using XP, Office 97, Outlook Express, Photoshop Elements 2, and other "out of date" programs. No major complaints and no desire to "upgrade." Now, if I could just learn to touch-type...

Posted by: davebeedon | January 30, 2009 3:05 AM | Report abuse

a comment about the libraries. i had the same gut reaction that an extra click annoyed me, but then i discovered its genius. i started pulling the My Documents folders from my other Windows install and my other computer into the Documents library. Now i have access to all my documents everywhere in one directory. this is particularly prescient of Microsoft because it will work once people are storing their documents in the cloud.

other than that, i upgraded my tablet from XP tablet to windows 7 and the difference is amazing. granted i never used Vista or OSX, and i have a feeling i would not be as enthused with Win7 if i had, but to me using XP is painful now. Win7 is just better, easier, faster, and slicker in every way on the exact same hardware.

Posted by: jay2s | January 30, 2009 3:41 AM | Report abuse

Re: Cannot access Device Manager

I spent a few hours with Microsoft
on the phone trying to resolve this
problem and they could not fix it. They said to wait a few months for
some patches. That was it.
-- Vic1
Posted via http://www.vistaheads.com

Re: Cannot access Device Manager

I had exactly the same thing happen to me but I noticed that I can still
access Device Manager by clicking on the change settings button on the
same page, it's over on the lower right. I can also access Device
Manager by typing in devmgmt.msc into the run window and hitting enter
and it gets me there every time. It sucks but it's better than reloading
Vista again. -- Vic1
Posted via http://www.vistaheads.com

As I have an OCD where stupid glitchy bugs are concerned I was foolish enough to completely wipe my Vista
install and re-install from scratch.

After installing Service Pack
1 the problem is back.

It's such a lame and simple thing that should just work - Vista really is a pile of

Posted by: vze4k4bh | January 30, 2009 3:46 AM | Report abuse

on the question of should they have waited longer for a 'revolutionary' release, i think MS did the right thing. With the amount of bad press that Vista receives (deservedly) every passing day, there wouldn't be a market left for MS products if they waited 3 more years.

I sold my fancy Sony Vaio running Vista for less than 50% six months later in favor of the Macbook. the BSODs were driving me nuts.

just happened to check out 7 on Parallels and from what I could see, it does look like a good product if not great.

for a change its fast. the interface is much more smooth and stylish. the taskbar is really useful. i am assuming the blue screens have been fixed.

99% of what I want from an OS is stability and predictability. as long as i get that from my current platform, switching seems like unnecessary and too much trouble for too little. but MS's genius is in spite of knowing that they managed to convert a whole lot of lifelong Windows users to Macs
because of Vista.

m i going back to windows because of 7? well not unless Apple screws up in the same way...

Posted by: ramboreturns | January 30, 2009 4:07 AM | Report abuse

"To fix those deeper-seated ailments, however, Microsoft would have had to put in a lot more than two years of work."

It's not a question of work. Microsoft can't fix Windows because they'd be breaking backwards compatibility. But backwards compatibility is all that keeps them in business.

If they break enough software, people might as well use some other, better, cheaper OS. If they change the UI too much, it's cheaper to retrain for Linux. Etc.

Microsoft is a mature software company with a legacy product, and they're stuck with that. They've tried to get into new markets (search, advertising, music players, etc.) but with little success.

Posted by: ats0j8 | January 30, 2009 4:11 AM | Report abuse

The article is in general fair regarding Windows 7. I do not agree personally with the QuickLaunch bar comment of the author but the problem can be addressed as I mentioned before.
I hope we remember that we talk about a beta here and I think we should not forget that when we make judgments.
Shamus11 said above that "The basic Vista is better than W-7 in a lot of ways unless you get a computer loaded with it by HP". This is (forgive my language) one of the biggest stupidities I read in a long time. I understand he(or she) is not a guru but this statement is a pure proof that he(or she) never actually installed Windows 7. I am not a Microsoft evangelist but Win 7 beta is by far the best thing MS created. I would say that it is the way Vista should have been made in the first place. For me it is absolutely unexplainable why they didn't make it like this in the first place. I installed 7 on two different machines and on each of them it took no more than 20 mins. This is amazing for a MS Windows. The stability and manageability is unprecedented. Of course you may find some problems with drivers that are not updated or written yet for it but I'm sure this is just a temporary problem. The article doesn't mention the huge change in the management of the UAC (User Account Control) that was such an annoyance in Vista but is so minimal in 7.
On top of that even the burden on the hardware - I measured the CPU and GPU temperatures in both Vista and Win 7 environments and the difference is noticeable in favor of 7.

Posted by: apokryph | January 30, 2009 4:14 AM | Report abuse

Windows 95, 98, 2000, Millennium, XP, Vista, 7.... Just give me an OS that WORKS!

I don't want to have to spend hours and hours getting it to work, re-learning how it works, re-training hundreds of users to use it, spending thousand and thousands of dollars upgrading boxes to meet the OS's new requirements.

I just want the damned thing to work trouble free!!

Isn't that why we bought it in the first place?? Or have I missed something?

Posted by: joeblotnik49 | January 30, 2009 5:19 AM | Report abuse

Apple ported their zeroconf networking stack (bonjour) to XP years ago. It works well. So zeroconf is already ported to windows.

Posted by: nidan | January 30, 2009 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Of all the OS's I've ever used, be it 95, 98, 2000, ME, XP, Vista, Linux, OSX, I have no favourite, they all have their disadvantages. Being on an XP computer right now, I feel right at home. It's simple...no confusing gadgets, buttons, tools, or functions that drastically slow down my pc. Being fair to XP, no matter how much I'd like to stay away from Microsoft these days, It is a hit in my openion.


Sure there arent much programs out there for mac, but then again, most people just BUY programs for windows and, then, later make a change to mac after being fed up, and expect the program to run on a mac, its not mac being incompatible - it's just that people dont want to go out and buy the software for a mac. Say you used a mac and bought all your software for mac, and made a sudden change to a pc, you'd start complaining that windows is SOO incompatible and that there arent any software that works on pc, and everyone would follow the trend and go with mac because someone said that pc is incompatible with ALL software.

My openion is don't consider windows 7 as part of the windows group. Consider it as a whole new OS. In fact I have no idea why they even called Vista windows Vista, or Windows 7 windows 7 for that matter, they vary FAR too much from their counterparts. I will use XP for some time to come, and I will use a Mac when I can afford one. I will do so until windows releases something user friendly. Hey I dont mind the looks, not at all, it's just that it's lost it's windows feel, it's just too different for it's own good. You're right, they revolved when they should have evolved.

As a suggestion to Microsoft, dont continue Vista and 7 under the same brand, make a whole new parallel operating system line.

They should rename Vista and windows 7 to Door vista and and Door 7 or something and continue the good old windows brand that we all love to handle.

Posted by: lucanus43 | January 30, 2009 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Of all the OS's I've ever used, be it 95, 98, 2000, ME, XP, Vista, Linux, OSX, I have no favourite, they all have their disadvantages. Being on an XP computer right now, I feel right at home. It's simple...no confusing gadgets, buttons, tools, or functions that drastically slow down my pc. Being fair to XP, no matter how much I'd like to stay away from Microsoft these days, It is a hit in my openion.


Sure there arent much programs out there for mac, but then again, most people just BUY programs for windows and, then, later make a change to mac after being fed up, and expect the program to run on a mac, its not mac being incompatible - it's just that people dont want to go out and buy the software for a mac. Say you used a mac and bought all your software for mac, and made a sudden change to a pc, you'd start complaining that windows is SOO incompatible and that there arent any software that works on pc, and everyone would follow the trend and go with mac because someone said that pc is incompatible with ALL software.

My openion is don't consider windows 7 as part of the windows group. Consider it as a whole new OS. In fact I have no idea why they even called Vista windows Vista, or Windows 7 windows 7 for that matter, they vary FAR too much from their counterparts. I will use XP for some time to come, and I will use a Mac when I can afford one. I will do so until windows releases something user friendly. Hey I dont mind the looks, not at all, it's just that it's lost it's windows feel, it's just too different for it's own good. You're right, they revolved when they should have evolved.

As a suggestion to Microsoft, dont continue Vista and 7 under the same brand, make a whole new parallel operating system line.

They should rename Vista and windows 7 to Door vista and and Door 7 or something and continue the good old windows brand that we all love to handle.

Posted by: lucanus43 | January 30, 2009 7:46 AM | Report abuse

oops double click.

Posted by: lucanus43 | January 30, 2009 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you.

MS is changing for one and only reason: to FORCE you to buy more software that you don't need. Don't forget that. XP is perfectly adequate for what MS users do.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Never forget that MS is not a technical company. They are a marketing company.

Posted by: garethharris | January 30, 2009 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Read Carrier Post & must say Robs FULL Page articles LOOK Very Impressive. on Vista & 7, if your computer is not DVD capable, its time for change soon, if its hooking to Large screen thru dvi/hdmi port, think soon+. It not worth it to distrub strong system, yet Vista/7 Ultimate are best Your can get & its pretty good.

Signed:PHYSICIAN THOMAS STEWART VON DRASHEK M.D.

Posted by: thomasxstewart | January 30, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

@jabberwolf -
Do you actually understand what "64-bit" means? You talk about it as if it means something significant to the end user. A 64-bit OS does not necessarily run any faster or smoother than a 32-bit one. So, who really cares if the apps you mention are 32-bit or 64, the end user certainly won't care.

A 64-bit OS does allow you to map larger chunks of memory among other things, but mostly that doesn't affect the performance of the average PC.

Posted by: georgejones5 | January 30, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand all the "it's just about money" comments. Why is that a bad thing? Car companies sell technically stagnant cars year after year and the smae morons go out an buy them. Does that make the car companies greedy b@stards? No. It makes them a company that produces a product to sell... Assigning morality to is the true idiocy here...

On the topic at hand though, Vista has never "broken" for me. I have had a couple of minor driver issues and program compatibilty problems, but guess what? It's because, like an idiot, I installed stuff that was not designed for Vista... I am pleased with the increased memory support. In fact, I intend to move to 64bit Vista and bump to my motherboard limit of 8GB of ram (I play games, use VMWare, etc.)

Posted by: druvas | January 30, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Windows is just Windows, no matter how MS try to tweak it or "improve" it. Until they throw out the codes and start from scratch, not thing will ever change.

One just cannot simply make a Yugo into a Mercedes.

Posted by: sayNo2MS | January 30, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

George: I've had Vista Ultimate 32 & 64 bit versions both installed on the same machine, and with the same hardware. I have to disagree with you. The 64 bit version is noticeably quicker.

Posted by: DGLLAI | January 30, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Vista has always been buggy on my machines so I try to use my XP machines as much as possible. Because of that I look forward to any improvement that Microsoft can send for Vista. What an utter disaster Vista has been for users and for Microsoft's business and image as a whole.

Posted by: Rob35 | January 30, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I've been pretty well tied to Windows and Microsoft because of work and decisions I did not and cannot influence, but have at least been able to go as much as possible to Open Source stuff (e.g., Open Office) for personal use.

Retirement approaches; so does Mac.

Posted by: szwheelock | January 30, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I have installed Windows 7 Beta and I think it is great! I am a 70 year old gamer and mainly "play" Guild Wars and Second Life. They both run fine on the 64 bit version of Win7. A few programs that ran OK on Vista do not. But I blame the programmers of those programs-Not Microsoft.
Office 2007 also runs just fine. Win7 loads and closes much faster and, of course, in my 64 bit version can "see" my full 4 gigs of ram.

Posted by: danceblade | January 30, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

While I think one of the few things user friendly is a globe (turn it one way and you can find Wyoming; turn it some more and you find Ethiopia, really simple to use), nothing about Vista or the new operating system seems like an improvement over earlier operating systems.

Why not spend the time to make a very good, easy to use, operating system that incorporates the best of what's already available, and avoid new libraries, etc.? Granted, it might have taken two or more years, but wouldn't that be better than a massive interim solution that doesn't solve the problem?

Dungarees@gmail.com

Posted by: Dungarees | January 30, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like 90% of everyone in here needs to actually use Windows 7 Beta.

As an advanced Linux user (GUI and command line) and advanced Windows user, I feel I can provide a very open minded view at OSes and I think Windows 7 is a step in the right direction. I've been running it since Beta was released and it's great. Extremely stable, fast, and has improvements in all the right places. I like Vista, but over time it seems to slow down and get clogged. All these Windows problems are because the OS has huge exposure in the world, making it a target of hackers and malware. Software developers are too lazy to make their software correctly and people are stupid because they try to install Win 98 software on Vista and expect it to work perfectly. Even compatibility mode can't fix some incompatibilities. Virus suites like McAffee are so bloated and heavy they bring a PC to its knees. And don't get me started on Flash - Adobe is a huge source of PC slowdowns and security holes. I have a gaming PC that only has a few games on it with Vista and it runs very very fast always. My main laptop with Vista has slowed down a lot in the last year because of all the software I install/uninstall.

As far as I'm concerned, 7 is great and i'm looking forward to the release of it. As long as nVIDIA and HP don't fubar it all up with crappy drivers again it should have a strong launch.

To me it has never been Win vs Mac vs Linux. I'm a geek - I love trying them all. Different strokes for different folks.

Posted by: rlescaille | January 30, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and secondly, Rob, I don't think you actually used Homegroup because it's completely legacy compatible.

The new terminology and user friendly front end to it will help a novice user understand how to utilize a windows network. Before it was always somewhat complicated to the average user.

Libraries are a great feature too! I store pictures on a shared volume on my linux NAS. Now I can access my photos all in one place. Same with Music.

People PLEASE try before you give feedback. I have no idea how the new libraries feature could be viewed as something negative for Windows.

Posted by: rlescaille | January 30, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Microsoft uses substandard workers to code this software - most of the work is done by cheap H1-B workers and the rest is outsourced. Anyone using their "customer service" phone number knows how utterly incompetent their foreign tech's are and only an idiot would expect it to be any different for a product developed similarly. Microsoft dumped more than 5,000 U.S. workers last month an not one H1-B worker. With hundreds of thousands of U.S. technology workers unemployed right now, it makes absolutely no sense to allow even one H1-B worker anyways. But, Microsoft is actually lobbying for more! So... count on Windows 7 being a piece of trash and watch the continuation of it's slide into technology joke status. I use Linux, now, because Apple is emulating Microsoft and using incompetent guest workers to do their software development. I would gladly use any product that was developed in the U.S. by U.S. workers. It looks like we will have to wait for the government to end the H1-B visa and tax the snot out of outsourced work, ending it, before we can get decent software and OS.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | January 30, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I use WinXP at work and recently bought a new Vista notebook for home use. Having administrator rights on my work machine, it appears that being an administrator actually allows one to perform fewer tasks on Vista than on XP. Since pretty much every new Wintel consumer box is shipping with some flavor of Vista, I am not seeing anything in your review which would encourage me to plunk down more money to upgrade to 7.

It will be interesting to see if the proliferation of SKUs for Vista will be replicated in 7. Why doesn't BitLocker encryption come on every single flavor of Vista?

Posted by: 54Stratocaster | January 30, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

mibrooks27, you're the living definition of incompetent. That's why you're so bitter, you stupid useless failure of a loser.

Posted by: wangbang747 | January 30, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

nihao1 said:
"Designed by engineers, for engineers. The next generation won't be built until Microsoft hires PEOPLE to assist in the human engineering interface. Until then, we are all stuck."

The human engineering interface might be improved if they simply hired American engineers. And I sometimes wonder if the people developing Windows actually use it. It's gotten a lot better than it used to be (even Vista), but I sometimes wonder what these people were thinking.

Posted by: bill3 | January 30, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

The extraordinary speed with which micro$oft is trying to replace vista is further proof that this is a total Piece-of-S OS - as anybody that is unfortunate enough to have to use it knows. Bloated vista is so bad it makes that other total disaster, Windows ME, look good! Expect the same cr*p in the next windoze. Hang onto Windows XP Pro for as long as you can.

If micro$oft had any sense of responsibility, they would provide the next "new and improved" OS FREE to anybody stuck with the vista tu*d.

But, M$ will act responsibly only when pigs fly, when h*ll freezes over and when hussein gives up drugs.

Posted by: LoonyLeft | January 30, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I installed 7 on a new Dell I bought because Dell sent me Vista 32 bit and refused to give the 64 bit version I had ordered. In any case, a clean install of Windows is 99% of the time going to be better than one loaded down with garbage from Dell, HP, Acer, Gateway or whoever.

The new taskbar tiles is just like quick launch. It's really the list of currently running programs that is missing. It's not as easy to see what windows you have open, a similar problem to OS X. The whole thing is getting more and more Mac-y.

I am still waiting for an instant boot Windows computer. It's getting faster though, which is a step in the right direction.

Posted by: staticvars | January 30, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

From what I've read Visa 7 looks like mere lipstick on the Windows pig. I hear about a snazzy looking task bar and a couple of other new features that are frankly unnecessary and unwanted by most people (I suspect). Unfortunately, it has the same basically insecure security scheme (UAC) as the rest of Windows. And I suspect that the reason some of the accessories were omitted was to lighten the size of the overall package. What they really needed to do was to come up with a truly thin operating system that can be easily and automatically updated by the users if the users want to access new features. Just like Linux distros (I use Ubuntu) do.

Posted by: boboran | January 30, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

In regard to the quick launch bar comment, Windows XP allows you to display it or remove it from your taskbar so totally removing it from Windows 7 doesn't really make much of a difference. Besides, I actually find the Quick Launch toolbar quite useful. :)

Posted by: karensaid | January 30, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Business binds me to Windows and Microsoft Office, because it's what my customers have. In two years, when I retire, I will jump on day 1 to Linux and OpenOffice.org. I can't wait. With Windows Vista, Microsoft clearly identified the enemy at last: It's the user! I never have seen an operating system that works as hard as Vista does to prevent a user from getting his or her work done quickly. Our machines here all have both XP Pro and Vista. After a few month's in the Vista torture chamber, I quit booting it and boot only XP Pro now. After taking a look at Windows 7 and hoping that Microsoft might have regained its senses, I can say only, "Long live LINUX!"

Mark Oliva in Bavaria

Posted by: MarkOliva | January 31, 2009 12:16 AM | Report abuse

Microsoft is the leader in creating jobs, we need Microsoft especially in this economic downturn, without Windows, 99% of the IT supports and so called computer experts will be homeless.

Please Microsoft, keep Windows coming, can't wait for Windows 666, and to all Mac fan boys, ditch your Mac NOW and get a Windows PC!!

Posted by: sayNo2MS | January 31, 2009 12:36 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, since there isnt any motive to upgrade from XP, the "people" at microsoft decide to stop you from using XP by ending all support. And because there isnt any profit in Vista, Microsoft is being cheap again..."you cannot upgrade to windows 7 from XP...you MUST have Vista first"

Posted by: lucanus43 | January 31, 2009 6:37 AM | Report abuse

@ Mark Oliva

I worship you man lol.

Posted by: lucanus43 | January 31, 2009 7:17 AM | Report abuse

I'm running 7 on my Mac via boot camp, and it is fast fast fast. Kicks Vista's bloated hiney. That's the real news here, Rob.

Posted by: idealist61 | January 31, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

For a person paid for to help explain technology to laymen, the author Mr. Pegoraro doesn’t seem to have done some of his home work. He even admitted that he didn’t understand the concept of libraries. Let me help him and the readers on this one. Libraries allow one to basically create references to other folders on any accessible drive to a Windows 7, be it local or a network and group them into categories. Assuming a user understood file and folder permissions and any other technologies necessary that user could create a reference to a Windows XP, OS X, or even a Linux folder and put it in a Library on a Windows 7 machine. If one had a family member with public videos on a Mac that user could simply point to that location and then reference those videos on a Windows 7 computer seamlessly. Any time the person with the Windows 7 computer looked that their video folder, they would be able to see the videos on the Mac. This isn’t a new concept on any OS, even Windows, it simply allows for abstraction of the location of folders and organizing these abstractions into groups. It’s a very useful feature of Windows 7 that I’m using daily.

Mr. Pegoraro however does seem correct about Homegroups being a Windows 7 only. However it might be the case that add-ons to older Windows machines could support it as well as Bonjour Mac’s. This being the first public beta, I believe we’ll see more word done on this feature.

I find fascinating how politicized technical blogs have become. Too little technical analysis and too much personal opinion.

Posted by: Heatlesssun | January 31, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

In my experience every "upgrade" Microsoft produces does several things:
It treats the consumer (me) with even more contempt for my intellect.
It hides more details from me. (What's the full name of this file? How big is this file? How many clicks to find out?)
It shirks on its documentation.
It makes installs and re-installs more difficult.
It hides various capabilities in command-line-only utilities with no documentation.

Is it possible that Vista is for Europe, i.e., it's a product created solely for legal reasons, and Microsoft wants to defray the cost of its development by convincing US users to buy it also?

And I'm puzzled over why a folder with shortcuts in it is less useful than a "library." If it's for networks, either my PC can use the file or not. What's new about that?

Posted by: Jumper1 | January 31, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

In response to the previous post by Jumper1:

Shortcuts and Libraries are rather different entities. A shortcut is really more of user interface convention that is just a file that the file explorer understands is a pointer to another location. If I were to copy a folder with a shortcut in to another folder, I would only get the shortcut file copied.

Now if I were to copy the Library to another folder, I would get the contents of all the files and folders in the Library, just not short references. Pretty big difference wouldn’t you say? Any file operation would work the same, a search, even a delete.

Posted by: Heatlesssun | January 31, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Reactions against the introduction of Windows 7 and Windows Live Mail indicate that it is an abortive enterprise. Loyal Windows users are showing an understanding what the planning is all about. Windows 7 is a rip-off and appears to become a lethal close of Microsoft world dominance and a shift to Apple and Linux. Microsoft management is not only at the risk of making a fool of itself; their present Windows 7 introductory decision is suicidal policy.

Posted by: Anders3 | February 1, 2009 7:24 AM | Report abuse

I have never read such a pile of slanted drivel in my life. If you're not going to have an open mind on the topic, Rob, then why bother writing the article. I have read several other reviews from tech columns you yourself use as reference (Ars Technica, Gizmodo, Engadget) and all of them had fairly favorable things to right about this upcoming release.

You're pro-apple bias is so obvious it renders your opinion on this topic a joke. Please let someone who does not have their head up Steve Jobs' butt review the PC products from now on...

Posted by: klepto | February 1, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse


I have to agree for the most part with Mr. Pegoraro. I suspect that the removal of the freebie programs that MS used to bundle is the first step towards subscription-based "Live" computing.

@jabberwolf: you state, "As for crashes with Vista, those have almost always been attested to users being boneheads and installing programs not made for vista, hardware not made for vista (drivers for XP) and done in-place upgrades."

My response: your statement is evidence of the most arrogant flavor of Windows fanatics. One can only ignore the rest of your juvenile post. You are the number one bonehead here, buddy.

@JkR-: you state, "I can now safely say that 100% of my encounters with Mac and Unix fan bois"

My response: You're the #2 bonehead. Without comparison of a second item, there would be no way to measure or contrast anything in a review. Since so many features of your favorite OS were "inspired by" the Mac OS or UNIX or Linux, and delivered so so long ago to the user, they make the most obvious benchmarks by which Windows 7 is just now trying to catch. Get over yourself.

@wiredog: actually, OSX is going on 8 years old

@ats0j8: right on!

@druvas: physical machines do wear out, so buying a new car every now and then makes sense. For software to become increasingly bloated and less easy to use with each release is unforgivable. Useability and stability should not decline with each new release. This is what happens when you keep building your tower on a faulty foundation.

@Heatlesssun: It took an awfully long time to explain Microsoft's latest poor implementation of a good idea. But then, MS networking has always been overcomplicated. Let's just hope they get it right before final release.

Posted by: roule | February 2, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

"But then, MS networking has always been overcomplicated. Let's just hope they get it right before final release."

I can attest to that. For years, one needed third party applications to intercede to make Microsoft's wired networking useable at all. But, one would think that with Bonjour more or less perfect, Microsoft would have smoothed out its wireless and wired networking by now. All it had to do was copy Apple and then deny it.

I read this thread with a certain bemusement. I do not understand why there are people so loyal to Microsoft they deny there is anything wrong with Vista.

Posted by: query0 | February 3, 2009 4:28 AM | Report abuse

In reply to " apokryph " - first of all I would never call you "stupid" for expressing your opinon or feelings concerning any OS regardless of the brand. Some look for certain things while others look for or at other things in an OS. I was giving an honest opinion at the time, and even though you didn't like it, thats tough. You don't know me or what I do - but I'll put my IQ beside yours any day. And instead of trying to downgrade someone, whom you don't even know - why not offer suggestions to try and help them see the error of their ways and point out things they may have not seen in the system. And I have never bought anything just because some else said I should. As soon as M$, (sometimes even before) puts out a new OS, they have to start putting in security patches and the like. And I would be "stupid" if I believed ever thing M$ said. And I have never believed all the lies the auto makers put out either. But that was and is my opinion whether you like it or NOT.

Posted by: Shamus11 | February 4, 2009 1:30 AM | Report abuse

There are always bugs in a new program. Such bugs will eventually get fixed and make computing more comfortable - be it OSX or Windows. The practical point of all of this is the fact that it makes life easier computing. By any comparison, one can load more programs on Windows to achieve project objectives much more quickly than on OSX.

Posted by: Graman | February 4, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

A guy would think the windows fanboys were getting paid for all the spam they are inadvertently sending and the ddos attacks they are unknowingly participating in.
Turn off your zombie spambot hosts and ddos clients. You are not allowed back on the internet until you've cleaned up your machine and your act.

Posted by: sobe53711 | February 4, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

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