Windows 7 Can Learn From Vista


"Windows Vista's Three Killer Features," by Ed Bott, January 30, 2007 [NOTE: As the title suggests, Ed says in the piece that it isn't a review -- in fact, he questions the very idea of writing OS reviews: "The notion that any person can give a one-size-fits-all recommendation for such a complex product is amusing, to say the least."]

windows vista
How are the visuals? "attractive..."

How's UAC? Not addressed.

How are performance and stability? "The myth is that Vista requires a hefty, expensive new PC to work properly. The reality is any edition of Windows Vista will work very well indeed on relatively inexpensive hardware."

How compatible is it? "About the only reason to deliberately avoid Vista is if you use a critical software program or a hardware device that isn't supported."

The bottom line? "Should you wait for Service Pack 1? That's the conventional wisdom, and for businesses of even modest size and complexity, it's probably good advice. But if you're looking for a PC for use at home or in a small business-especially if digital media is high on your priority list-there's little advantage to waiting. Based on my experience with Windows Vista, I think it's a very solid release."

Overall conclusions about these nine publications' evaluations of Vista? Reviewers, as a group, weren't irrationally exuberant-but with the exception of Steve Manes, they also failed to detect all the downsides that hurt the OS in the market.

I think Aero mattered less to real people than many reviewers thought it would-especially since initial driver glitches often prevented it from working well. I suspect that reviewers, like Microsoft, were overly optimistic about how many driver and app compatibility issues would get resolved at the last moment before the OS hit store shelves, and that they didn't anticipate the degree to which these issues would cause Vista to run like a sickly dog on many PCs (including new ones, and especially before SP1 arrived). Most reviewers also cut UAC more slack than a lot of real people ended up doing.

One other thing: After something like eighteen years of reviewing operating systems, I've come to the conclusion that no review written before an OS hit the streets is really complete: It's missing critical information on compatibility issues discovered by millions of real people as they install the new product. There's never been a new operating system that didn't cause significant headaches for a meaningful (if, in the best cases, small) percentage of the people who installed it, and there's never been one that wasn't significantly improved by the first major round of post-release bug fixes. Every OS review should remind readers of this.

Consumer Reports won't give any new car model an unqualified thumbs up until it has some service data. We software reviewers, too, should treat any review of a product as complex as an operating system written before its release as somewhat preliminary.

Now let's see how the critical response to Windows 7 jibes with what real people think once they get their hands on it. It's certainly been remarkably favorable overall so far, including in this review I wrote for PC World...

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