Windows 7: Seven Points of Imperfection

Since its highly ballyhooed rollout near the end of October, Windows 7 has been applauded by many as Microsoft's best operating system yet. But no OS is perfect, and that goes for Windows 7.

Windows 7 is earning high marks from many users. People "will appreciate significant improvements in areas such as boot time, resume from sleep/hibernation and faster connections to networks," wrote one early user, Andre da Costa, on a Microsoft forum.

Also on the positive side, users are citing advantages such as much better disk performance, a more streamlined design, longer battery life, and out-of-the-box support for 3G wireless, for instance. The list goes on.

In fact, in a survey conducted by Technologizer's Harry McCracken, a PC World contributor, a sizable majority of more than 550 Windows 7 early adopters said they're "extremely satisfied" with the new OS.

So what's not to like about Windows 7? Although the widely publicized Windows "black screen of death" issue has turned out to be largely a bunch of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt), Windows 7 does have its flaws.

Here's my personal list of seven points of imperfection in and around the new OS. Some of these - such as your need to learn a new user interface (UI), Windows 7's omission of Movie Maker, or its lack of support for older printers -- might or might not matter to you personally. But issues related to Windows 7 pricing, installation and customer support are more universal in scope.

#1. Windows 7 doesn't include certain earlier Windows components.

In the interests of reducing bloatware and improving performance, Windows 7 strips out components such as Windows Messenger, Movie Maker, and Live Mail, a program rolled out in 2007 to replace XP's Outlook Express and Vista's Windows Mail.

If you never use these components, you're not really going to care. You can always go ahead and add this software later, anyway. But if you're a long-time user of Windows Messenger, for example, and you don't know ahead of time that it's not supposed to be there, you might be a bit mystified as to where to find it.

#2. Windows 7 lacks support for older printers and other external devices.

With Microsoft now imposing a more stringent approval process for compatibility of external devices, drivers for a lot of devices aren't yet available for Windows 7 -- even six weeks after the release of the new OS. If you're among the many people who are stepping to a 64-bit version of Windows for the first time ever with Windows 7, you could face even worse problems around peripheral support.

Assuming that your PC hardware supports it, 64-bit Windows accommodates a lot more RAM. But like 64-bit Vista before it, 64-bit Win 7 requires drivers to be digitally signed for security reasons. So if you have a six-year-old laser printer or an aging Webcam you really want to hang on to, you might be out of luck.

#3. Windows 7 forces you to learn a new UI.

In creating Windows 7, Microsoft made a lot of tweaks to its previous UI, adding new features such as Jump Lists, One-Click WiFi, HomeGroup, and Device Stage, along with smaller UI enhancements like Aero Snap and Aero Shake.

I find some of these to be quite useful. HomeGroup, for example, makes it a lot easier to set up a home network. Device Stage helps you to manage external devices such as printers and phones. With Aero Snap, you can quickly resize windows on your desktop. But as with any software changes, there's some degree of a learning curve involved in getting used to the new tweaks. So if you're especially short on time right now, you might want to hold off on Windows 7 until you have more time to dabble.

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