Windows 7 is finally here. The sun can shine and the birds can chirp. Ding dong, Windows Vista is dead! Perhaps that is a bit premature. Windows 7 hasn't been officially released for 24 hours yet, so its understandable if the jury is still deliberating. There are certainly those who think Windows 7 is nothing more than Windows Vista with an extra bell or whistle thrown in for eye candy.
To be honest, I like Windows 7 and believe it will be a phenomenal success for Microsoft. Earlier I wrote a post detailing 5 reasons to upgrade to Windows 7. But, just to play devil's advocate, let's take a look at 5 ways Windows 7 could become another Vista.
1. UAC still there. UAC-- the bane of Windows Vista-- hasn't gone away. Microsoft altered the behavior and added a configuration slider than enables the user to select what level of protection UAC will provide, thus controlling the volume of pop-up alerts generated by UAC.
However, after much debate with the security community during the Beta testing, the default setting is still set to what users experienced with Windows Vista. Frankly, UAC serves a purpose and it is better to leave it alone. But, those who dislike UAC are going to have to go into the control panel and modify the configuration to their liking or be faced with the same pop-ups that annoyed the world with Vista.
2. Hardware and Drivers. Windows Vista stumbled and fell right out of the blocks as a result of lagging hardware and device driver support. The vendors just weren't ready when Vista was launched and Vista never really recovered from the damaged reputation even after most of those issues were resolved. The legal issues Microsoft faced with the Windows Vista compatible logo debacle didn't help either.
Users get upset when they get a new operating system and find out that their existing printer, wireless router, webcam, or other peripheral hardware doesn't work with it. They are left with the choice of not having the hardware or springing for new hardware that is compatible which doesn't make them happy campers.
3. Performance improvement minor. A lot of fuss has been made about performance tweaks that ostensibly make Windows 7 faster than Windows Vista or Windows XP. In my opinion, vendors in general and Microsoft specifically should make these improvements, but not market them.
The problem is that ‘performance' is so subjective to the exact hardware the operating system is running on, or the types of applications being run, or the number of applications being run simultaneously. Citing performance as a selling point almost always backfires because A) the performance improvement is generally not enough to make a difference to normal users, and B) there are almost always just as many studies and reviews showing equal or even slower performance which turns into a sort of he-said / she-said marketing nightmare.
4. Expensive. Face it. Windows 7 is not cheap. For those who are purchasing a new computer system with Windows 7 pre-installed, Windows 7 is great. For those running Windows XP or Windows Vista and just wanting to upgrade the OS on their existing hardware, spending $100 to $300 depending on the flavor of Windows 7 can be a tough pill to swallow. You can get a brand new desktop computer with Windows 7 for around $300, and the latest version of the Mac OS was only $29.
5. No direct upgrade from XP. To me, this is the most obvious mis-step by Microsoft in developing Windows 7. Maybe it just couldn't be done, but I would have had all of my best developers working night and day to figure out how to make it happen. After the issues with Windows Vista, and knowing that the vast majority of users-both consumer and enterprise-are still relying on Windows XP, it seems like a direct upgrade path is a necessity.
Many users may be frustrated by the lack of upgrade path and having to do a fresh install, reinstall all of the other software and migrate user settings. Microsoft has provided tools to ease the pain, but this is still the biggest opportunity for negative PR or backlash related to Windows 7.
My take: Windows 7 will be a success and restore some lost faith in Microsoft. I also think that Windows XP users should upgrade to something...anything. The Windows XP operating system is a decade old. If you don't like Windows 7, by all means switch to Mac OS X or load Ubuntu Linux or something, but enough already with the Windows XP.
Tony Bradley is an information security and unified communications expert with more than a decade of enterprise IT experience. He tweets as @PCSecurityNews and provides tips, advice and reviews on information security and unified communications technologies on his site at tonybradley.com.