Comparing and Contrasting
Just to give the survey respondents even more ways to express their overall take on Windows 7, we asked them to measure it against other operating systems they're familiar with. A plurality of them have come to Windows 7 from Vista, and their consensus is that it's a major step forward. Almost two-thirds say it's much better than Vista, ninety-four percent think it's at least somewhat better, and only three percent rate it about the same. Just one percent deem it somewhat worse than Vista...and nobody says it's much worse.
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Windows XP is a far better-liked OS than Vista ever was, and its popularity seems to be reflected in our responses: Slightly fewer survey-takers give Win 7 a thumbs up compared to XP than compared to Vista, and slightly more say it's a step backwards. Overall, though, the positive feedback for Win 7 is still huge.
The "Windows or Mac?" question is one of tech's longest-running, most unsolvable debates. Still, we asked respondents who were familiar with Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard to compare it and Windows 7. The results were pretty much a wash: Roughly one-third think Windows 7 is better than Snow Leopard, a third think the two OSes are about the same, and a third think Snow Leopard is better. (We asked separately about OS X 10.5 Leopard, and got a similar response.)
We also asked respondents how Windows 7 compares to any version of Linux that they're familiar with. Yes, that's comparing a very specific product with a broad class of operating systems-it's a little like asking whether whether they prefer Ben & Jerry Cherry Garcia ice cream, or cake. But for what it's worth, more than two-thirds of the survey-takers say that Windows 7 is better than Linux.
One side note: In our screening for the survey, we verified that would-be respondents were running Windows 7. We asked those who said they weren't using the new OS what the primary factor holding them back was. Twenty-nine percent say it's because they're happy with Windows XP. (By contrast, only four percent of users told us they aren't moving to Windows 7 because they're pleased with Windows Vista.) Sixteen percent of holdouts say Windows 7 is too pricey.