Microsoft is hoping to end its 3-year Windows Vista nightmare with the release of Windows 7 in late October. When Microsoft released Vista, that operating system (OS) quickly developed an unenviable reputation for its slowness, intrusiveness and incompatibility with many gadgets. Microsoft altered its operating system many times to make it less dependent on high-end computers since its release, but Vista’s reputation as an overly gimmicky and flaky OS was hard to shake.
As recently as this past summer, at least two-thirds of corporate computers were still running the less flashy, but far more reliable Windows XP OS. However, early reviews of Windows 7 are positive. According to several reviewers, Windows 7 keeps the best of Vista, like security, stability and lots of eye candy and addressed most of what Vista users disliked, such as:
- Sluggishness Microsoft says Windows 7 offers “faster, more responsive performance” than its predecessor.
- Hardware requirements Users with older computers cried foul at the time about Vista’s higher-end hardware requirements. The standard edition of Windows 7 only requires 1 GB of memory and 1-GHz processor at the minimum to run, well under the current standards for new computers.
- Less alarmist than Vista Vista users reported that the OS freaked out anytime any real or perceived security threat occurred. With Windows 7, no less than 10 different categories of warnings accumulate in a unified Action Center and don’t interrupt processes.
Another aspect of the new OS that some users aren’t wild about is the fact that there are five different versions of Windows 7: Starter, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate. Each version comes with a different set of features and ranges from $120 to $320 in price.
Windows 7 users may also be disappointed to learn that some important and convenient accessory programs that they have gotten used to having were removed by Microsoft-out of fear of the antitrust lawsuits that have kept company lawyers in court around the world for years. Software that appeared in past versions of Microsoft’s operating systems that managed photographs, edited videos, read PDF documents, managed addresses and made chatting online or writing e-mail easy are now gone in Windows 7.
Installing Windows 7 can be a bit of a chore, depending on a user’s current OS. Users wishing to upgrade from Vista will have an easy time. Users currently running XP who want to upgrade will have do a “clean install,” which means they have to move all their programs and files off their hard drive, install Windows 7 and then copy everything back onto the hard drive again.
Microsoft thinks that most XP users won’t bother with the hassles of a clean install and will simply upgrade to the new OS with the purchase of a new PC with the software preinstalled.