The State of Windows 7 Satisfaction

Judging the Features

We asked respondents to rate eleven specific Windows 7 features that were new or substantially revised. (In retrospect, we should have also asked about Windows 7's DeviceStage, the peripheral-wrangling feature which I've found disappointing so far.)

Most of the features were well-received, especially the Taskbar, System Tray, window tiling, and desktop-revealing Aero Peek feature, all of which received Excellent or Very Good ratings from at least two-thirds of respondents. Even the new version of Vista's much-maligned User Account Control received an Excellent or Very Good from more than half of users, and only three percent said it was poor.

The Windows 7 feature which survey-takers were most lukewarm about isn't a Windows 7 feature, exactly-it's Internet Explorer 8, which first shipped back in March for Windows Vista and XP. While fifty percent of respondents say it's at least good, only nine percent rate it as excellent. Twenty percent said it's only fair and thirteen percent say it's downright poor, by far the most negative verdict given to any feature.

In the infographic below, the length of each bar indicates the percentage of respondents who say they've used each feature (virtually everyone rated the Taskbar, for instance, but only fifty-five percent have tried HomeGroups.) Features are ordered by the percentage of respondents who rated a feature as Excellent or very good. The more green the better; yellow and red indicate lukewarm and negative reactions, respectively.

[Click images to enlarge]

Happiness Is...

Most of our survey respondents had no trouble setting up Windows 7, weren't crippled by problems once they got it installed, and found much to like in its changes. And that translated into impressive numbers for overall satisfaction. Seventy percent say they are extremely satisfied with the new OS, and twenty-four percent say they're somewhat satisfied, for a total of ninety-four percent who are satisfied to some degree. Four percent say they are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, and two percent are somewhat or extremely dissatisfied. (When PC World surveyed Vista early adopters in 2007, it reported that only a little over one third of them were "very satisfied," and almost a quarter were "unimpressed.")

We asked respondents who said they were dissatisfied with Windows 7 to tell us why, but so few people were unhappy campers that the information we collected isn't statistically significant, so we won't chart it here. (Don't tell anyone we told you, but the majority of them said that Windows 7 is too expensive and doesn't have enough new features to warrant the cost.)

Does respondents' satisfaction with Windows 7 vary depending on whether they came to the OS from Vista or from XP? Yes-both groups are strongly favorable, but XP users are meaningfully less ecstatic. Seventy-nine percent of Vista users say they're extremely satisfied, while only sixty-one percent of XP users do.

We also gauged respondents' bottom-line appraisal of Windows 7 by asking them whether they'd willingly give it up for their old operating system. The vast majority-seventy-three percent-said they definitely wouldn't. Another eighteen percent said they probably wouldn't. Three percent said they probably would go back, and another three percent said they definitely would, or already had.

As with our question about overall satisfaction, Vista users gave Windows 7 a particularly hearty testimonial: Eighty-six percent of them say they definitely wouldn't go back. The percentage of XP users who say they've switched to Windows 7 permanently isn't quite that overwhelming, at sixty-one percent. XP users are also more likely to say they're probably or definitely abandoning Windows 7, although the overall percentage doing so remains low.

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