Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Windows 7 arrives; Windows Vista leaves

The waiting is over, and the upgrading can begin. Today, Microsoft's new Windows 7 operating system arrives in stores and on new computers. Microsoft is celebrating the occasion with characteristic hype, staging a gala event in New York to unveil the software.


For many PC users, Windows 7's arrival also means it's time to kick Windows Vista to the curb. (Yes, some people say they like Vista; I myself prefer Vista to XP, though that may only reflect how tired I am of the 8-year-old XP.) As I wrote in my column and on this blog last week, I think Windows 7 represents a clear upgrade over its predecessor.

But it's too soon to declare every Windows 7 feature a positive (or negative) development. The responses of users, software developers and hardware manufacturers to this operating system will shape those verdicts. For example, will multiple-Win 7-PC households become common enough that its HomeGroup networking option wins wide use? Will new applications adapt to 7's Libraries folders or will they continue to assume, incorrectly, that all of a user's files belong in one huge My Documents folder? Will gadget developers take advantage of 7's Device Stage interface for managing peripherals? Will computer vendors build affordable machines that take advantage of 7's enhanced support for touch screens?

We'll just have to see about all that.

In the meantime, if you are thinking about upgrading to 7, first run Microsoft's free Upgrade Advisor to make sure that your current system's hardware and software will still work under 7. The Lifehacker blog has more tips about preparing for a Win 7 install, including advice on setting it up alongside an earlier copy of Windows or on a Mac. Ars Technica outlines your purchase and upgrade options, including a couple of ways to get 7 at a discount.

To repeat my own advice about the two most common Win 7 upgrade scenarios: Going from XP to 7 will be be a painful experience requiring either some acquaintance with the workings of Windows or a friend with that knowledge; moving from Vista to 7 should be far easier, but it wouldn't hurt to wait for a couple of weeks to give your computer's manufacturer time to crank out any necessary bug fixes to its software bundle.

If, however, you were waiting to buy a new Windows computer, go ahead. You've been waiting long enough.

Are you reading this post on a computer running Windows 7? Tell me how the new version is working out for you -- post a report on your upgrade experience in the comments.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  October 22, 2009; 11:47 AM ET
Categories:  Windows  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Microsoft's Bing adds Twitter search (update: Google will too)
Next: Microsoft does Windows users a favor with Security Essentials


Geeks? Where are you? Geeks? Anyone?

Posted by: MajorConfusion | October 22, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

The geeks have been all over this for some months. Now it's time for the normals to weigh in - but it will be a few weeks before any of them have experience with 7.

I never did care much for the documents folder.

Posted by: j2hess | October 22, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

The days of being excited about a new OS are kinda gone, around here, anyway. At this point, the capability of the machine itself is quite adequate for all the things normal users can do. Our issues are having a recovery plan for when we get eaten alive with viruses/spyware/or just a general need for a new installation, and, bandwidth speed. The Japanese and Koreans have speeds that blow us away. XP was okay, 2000 was excellent, Vista was a pain when it came out, I always avoided it after that. We have other bigger issues than the OS.

Posted by: top-gorilla | October 22, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Windows 7 works very well, compared to what?

Compared to Vista, Windows 7 is a marked improvement in reliability and function. But, still basically it's just a Vista that works better.

The bar is pretty low. We've been so thirsty for so long, an O.S. from M.S. that works well out of the box seems so cool and refreshing. When in fact it's simply the O.S. Vista shouldv'e been all along.

Posted by: tgblackburn | October 22, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I upgraded from Vista Business to Windows 7 Ultimate and had _no problem whatsoever_. All of my software works fine, and I've had no difficulties with peripherals. Windows 7 seems to run a bit faster, but the difference is not dramatic. I'm not yet convinced that its worth the price to upgrade. Yes, the new window manipulation features (Aero x, y, z or whatever) are nice, but I don't think they are $150 nice.

Posted by: selbsttierqualerei | October 22, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

I have been running Windows 7 Ultimate (RTM) since it was released to MSDN suscribers back in AUgust. I did a clean install and have had no errors. My games perform flawlessly, MS Office is even faster on my quad-core processor. Smooth sailing so far....

Posted by: yeayea911 | October 22, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

When Windows XP first came out, it was touted as a massive improvement over earlier editions like Windows 95, Windows ME, and Windows 2000. Then folks screamed over all of the bugs and deficiencies that appeared. Now, 3 major service packs later, XP is a mostly competent, stable operating system.

Then Windows Vista came out. It was touted as a massive improvement over Windows XP. Then folks screamed over all the irritating features, program incompatibilities, and other deficiencies. Now, after multiple patches, and the fact that more software developers have made their products Vista compatible, Vista has slowly turned into a reasonably functional, stable OS (albiet with a few still-irritating features).

Now Windows 7 has come out. It is touted as a massive improvement over Windows Vista. I have every confidence that in the next few months, we will see folks screaming bloody murder over just-discovereed deficiencies and irritating features. We will continue to see virus-creators and hackers developing exploits faster than Microsoft can patch them. We will eventually undergo multiple patches and service packs, which will finally transform Windows 7 into a reasonably functional, stable OS. Right at that moment, Microsoft will release Windows 8.

The more things change, the more things stay the same. Bill Gates just gets richer and richer selling us the same thing over and over and over and over....

Posted by: carpiodiem | October 22, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

I think the real bugs will show up in the split between win 7 32 and win 7 64. Microsoft runs extensive marketing/product segmentation strategies, which i believe is a mistake.
Windows for Home, Business,Professional creates split code bases and an inability for developers to really stress test their codes.
Apple has been on a trajectory for 64 computing for the last two
OS Releases (Tiger, Leopard) and now with Snow Leopard they have cleanly extended the kernel to 64 bits. IF they can develope confidence and release a 64 Bit EFI Firmware upgrade to their older Core 2 Intel platforms they can move a tremendous amount of their users cleanly into 64 bit.

Everything i see in Win 7 indicates a real split between the 32 bit and 64 bit world, I have no hope that the manufacturers of devices will easily handle that problem let alone the software developers in the applications.

Apple is imperfect, they make mistakes, they are secretive and high handed, dropping ZFS is a clear case of this, but, they turn out high quality code.

Microsoft is creating another opportunity for people to move to LINUX APPLE or even the cloud.

Posted by: patb | October 22, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Windows NT 4.0 was followed by Windows 2000, which was actually NT 5.0, and then a year later by XP, which was internally numbered 5.1. Vista was NT 6.0 (hence the "VI" in the name), and contrary to its "product" name, Windows 7 is actually numbered 6.1. It's therefore really not so much a new OS as a much needed upgrade. The code base is still too much of the same old thing - until the registry goes away, Windows will still be a pain to keep running properly. And I never did use the "My Documents" folder - did anyone? I suspect all users already created their own "library" structure to put files in the proper place, so having one as part of Windows 7 is a small benefit indeed.

Posted by: seismic-2 | October 22, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

What carpiodiem said.

XP, in its final form, is a very stable, functional operating system. It does everything that the vast majority of users want done and it does it well.

Microsoft's new operating systems are driven by their need to sell new operating systems, not by consumer demand. The Vista debacle is exhibit A.

But consumers are wising up to this. Not wanting to be unpaid Beta testers, hardly anyone buys a new MS operating system when it's released. Most people wait until the first service pack comes out. By that time, the worst errors have been fixed and a consensus has formed as to whether the new OS is a real improvement or just an effort to pad Microsoft's bottom line. Despite all the hype, you can expect Windows 7 to follow the same pattern.

Remember, "Be not the first by which the new is tried nor yet the last to lay the old aside."

Posted by: anon99 | October 22, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I've upgraded 5 of my own systems last month when W7 was released to MSDN subscribers. The performance has been solid. I'm looking forward to see games release using more physics via DX11.

Posted by: SpecTP | October 22, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I have Win 7 running on two systems. One at home and one at work. Both are winners. The home system had the early beta test, then the RTM version. The home box was a Pentium 4 system with a removable hard drive. I was able to compare XP Pro, Vista Ultimate and Win 7 Ultimate ( All 32 Bit). Win 7 runs well on this older platform and much faster than the other configurations.

At work, I upgraded and older Vista Business system. to Win 7 Enterprise ( Pro Version). This system is a Core Duo with plenty of Ram and Drive space. It had user accounts for a few users and lots of applications. I used a new tool from Laplink, called PC Mover. It rocks. It copies all of the files, settings and applications prior to the conversion, then unpacks them after the upgrade. Sweet tool.

No need to load all of the CD's for MS Office, Adobe products, etc. The apps run well. I only had one missing device driver to fix afterward. It took 3 hours, but now I am sending this note from the device.

Posted by: dwicker1957 | October 22, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm reading this from a computer running Fedora. I thank my lucky stars every day that my computer is a Microsoft-free zone.

Posted by: sjtmbg | October 22, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

The Windows Vista Ultimate version was the best "flavor" of Vista. All the other lower flavors: Home, Office, and the like just did not stack up and gave the Ultimate version a bad reputation. I have the RC of Windows7 and it is a jetisoned improvement over Vista - albeit a slimmer almost identical version.

Posted by: rkayblock1 | October 22, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Why Should Consumers have to pay for Microsoft's Vista Bug fixes ? Isnt that what Windows 7 is?

Posted by: somycyrus | October 22, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad Rob is taking a wait and see approach instead of cheerleading. I had reason to reread Walt Mossberg's review praising Vista last week and was really embarrassed for him.

Posted by: query0 | October 22, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

I purchased a new HP Pavillion desktop computer last year along with an HP Color LaserJet 3600n printer. I was really excited about upgrading Vista to the new Windows 7 operating system, but was prudent enough to run the compatibility checker first:

And also the upgrade advisor:

What I learned was that in spite of all the hype about Windows 7 running all of my applications and being compatible with all of my Vista hardware, THAT JUST AIN'T THE TRUTH FOLKS.

That brand-new HP color printer I purchased in 2008 will NOT run on Windows 7 - there is no driver available for it, and nor will there ever be one, I was told by tech support at HP.

So the point here is, do NOT assume you can simply upgrade your system to Windows 7 and be "good to go" without a compatibility issue.

I'm faced with either buying a new printer if I want to upgrade, or to stick with Windows Vista if I want to continue using what, for all intents and purposes, is a brand new LaserJet printer.

Posted by: santabarbaratraveler | October 22, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

For Upgrade, BUILD New Computer, its mere $500 to get best3 or 4 cores. assemble it ,then load in -=7=-, after ALL Hdd are installed. Todays new masher gets about same scores as older Elite computer, just much less cost & Moore reliable.


Posted by: ThomasStewart1 | October 22, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Agreed with most of posters here that 7 is a great OS is a relative statement...great compared to Me, great compared to Vista. I've always wondered why people continue to buy the half-baked junk that MS produces when no one would ever do that with a car, appliance or electronic equipment. It's as if MS is operating like GM did in the 70s and 80s, selling cars riddled with reliability issues and by the time the cars were half-way reliable, the end of the generation cycle had arrived.

Posted by: MoCoPride | October 22, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

carpiodiem, hey sh1thead, Bill Gates retired, you stupid parrot jack@ss.

Posted by: bendan2000 | October 22, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

bendan2000.... get a grip, take it somewhere else. We usually see folks keep a civil tone around here. Most of us are grown ups.

Posted by: tbva | October 22, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

I've been running a dual boot Vista/Windows 7 RC laptop for months without any problems.

Windows 7 RC worked without problem with all peripherals and software. Wait if you want, but the extensive RC testing has convinced many people to upgrade ASAP.

The price of a single upgrade is steep, but for multiple computers, the Family Pack allows 3 upgrades for about $50/upgrade, the price of a PC game.

The whole point of an OS is to allow the CPU to interact with peripherals and software. Windows still allows for more of these interactions than any other OS.

Posted by: skshrews | October 22, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Helloooo! Earthling Rob Pegoraro ...
....reporting here from deepest Central Maryland on my down l o a d i n g e x p e r i e n c e which started this afternoon at approx 2:10Pm and is at 67% completion, accumulating "7" at rates varying from 79-91 K/sec at the time of this typing (9:31 PM) and indicating another hour and 50 some minutes yet to go for downloading, then it has to be installed....right? Good grief! I phoned my loyal Internet DSL provider, asking if they controlled the downloading speed.... no they don't, and I was told that he (the c/s rep.)suspected that it was M/S's server being overload these first few hours. It's always someone else's problem, isn't it? Instant gratification evaporated long ago.
Who rules here? Technology? The Consumer? Rob's print edition comment heading: "Living with technology, or trying to?" is prescient. Question: Was I too hasty and should I have waited until the rush was over?

Posted by: CharlesGriffith1 | October 22, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

There is no valid reason to switch off XP Pro unless your a gamer

Every Tech person I know tells me to never EVER switch to a new Microsoft program until The second service pack is released.

This is just so Microsoft get revenue at the expense of fools. As the expression goes there is a sucker born every minute

P.S. instead of wasting your cash on Microsoft give the money to a food bank where it will do good.

Posted by: DIVEMAN | October 22, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Re: my earlier comment....

"Faster Forward" indeed, eh Rob?

Posted by: CharlesGriffith1 | October 22, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

My first computer was a Kaypro II (Z80, CP/M, 64k RAM, no hard disk, 2 x 190k floppies), bought in 1982. In the past nearly three decades, my most stable computer so far is the one I own now: a Samsung R522 notebook running Vista. Whereas Vista was a disaster on my wife's computer, Vista SP2 with the latest September updates is actually very good. So far only one Blue Screen of Death in the four months since I have owned this computer. If I upgrade to Windows 7, it will not be for greater stability but for a better GUI.

Posted by: bentleychan | October 22, 2009 10:29 PM | Report abuse

To antabarbaratraveler - if you had registered your HP products, you should of received an email telling you the new W7 drivers are available with a link to easily install, it’s your fault not the OS's if you don't know what you’re doing...
To the rest of you having such difficulties with MS products, how do you function in life? - You either are on the low end of the intelligence scale or you just should not be using a computer.
All the competent people I know who use MS computers have never had a virus/malware and are very productive with their computers; home and professional/business usage.
BTW, our IT staff evaluates Macs, Linux and Windows systems for hacks, malware protection, and intuitiveness once a year. Our highly skilled programming staff was able to break in to a Mac using Snow Leopard in three minutes over the network, and a Linux system in about 2 minutes (much easier since the kernel is open source). However, the Windows 7 64-bit system with its fortified DEP kernel was not penetrable after 10 minutes of attacks – print that.
I am not an OS fan boy and use all the distros, but thrashing one operating system over another in either coming from an inexperienced or misinformed user – as they all have their advantages and disadvantages.

Posted by: SammyB1 | October 23, 2009 8:42 AM | Report abuse

"Wait if you want, but the extensive RC testing has convinced many people to upgrade ASAP."

Heh. Yeah. It's convinced people to upgrade who are already running Vista. I don't know anyone with functioning XP systems desperate to gamble on Windows 7.

Posted by: anon99 | October 23, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

All the Vista hate is usually the fault of the user not the OS itself.After the bugs were worked out Vista is a fine OS.

Posted by: fcs25 | October 24, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Excellent FUD SammyB1.

Tell Steve B. hi for me.

What I want to know is why hasn't my Fedora Core system that has been exposed to the Internet for some 3 years straight not been pwned as easily as you have explained.

Posted by: Annorax | October 24, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company