In a strictly logical sense, Windows 7 is an upgrade to the version of Windows that preceded it--which is, of course, Windows Vista.As a practical matter, however, most of the people who may buy Windows 7 as an upgrade or on a new PC are still using Windows XP.
This means that the biggest question about the latest version of Microsoft's OS is not whether it's an advance on Windows Vista but whether millions of XP users who opted out of the Vista upgrade will make the move to Windows 7.
Who better to ask than a whole bunch of Windows XP users? As part of the research for PC World's upcoming Windows 7 coverage, we conducted a survey of nearly 5,000 people who use XP as their primary OS, including readers of both PCWorld.com and my site, Technologizer. We asked them what they thought of Windows 7 (and whether they'd had a chance to try it). Ditto for Windows Vista. And we asked about their upgrade plans and general willingness to see Windows XP vanish from the scene. (The survey is still open if you'd like to participate.)
A few highlights from their responses:
They like what they've seen and heard about Windows 7. Seventy percent who have tried it say their reaction is somewhat or very positive; 55 percent of those who have only read about it so far have the same reaction.
That doesn't mean they're all committed to upgrading just yet. Fifty-three percent of those who have tried Windows 7 say they'll upgrade; forty-four percent who have only read about it say so. In both cases, most plan to wait awhile before making the jump, presumably to sidestep initial installation headaches and compatibility surprises. And a meaningful minority of both respondents who have tried Win 7 and those who have only read about it say they plan to stay with XP indefinitely.
They still bristle at Vista. Fifty-nine percent who have tried it react negatively; eighty-two percent of those who know something about it but haven't used it do so. Only two percent (!) of the latter group have a positive reaction to Vista.
They don't want Microsoft to take XP away. XP may theoretically have been discontinued, but it's still widely available as a downgrade option on Vista PCs and on netbooks, among other places. The majority of survey respondents say they'll be extremely unhappy when Microsoft stops selling it, period, and eighty percent say they'll be at least somewhat ticked off. The imminent availability of Windows 7 doesn't appear to change that.
If you're Microsoft, the best news in these numbers is the fact that so many respondents who have tried Windows 7 like it. That kind of reaction is a must if Windows 7 is going to repair the whole Vista mess. And come to think of it, that's the best news for XP holdouts, too: When Windows 7 arrives in stores on October 22nd, it stands a strong chance of being the compelling upgrade to XP that so many people decided Vista was not.
For more details and data, check out the full report at Technologizer.