It’s hard not to conclude that the glitz has gone out of operating system launches. To anyone who remembers the launch of Windows 95, all the succeeding iterations of Microsoft’s desktop operating system have failed to develop the same level of hype.
I didn’t go to the Windows 7 launch last week, being in the thick of a print deadline, but I’ve been running the OS since the Release Candidate came out. It’s a significant improvement on Vista, somewhat (though not massively) faster and more responsive and just generally less annoying.
So far at least, it has been pretty well received and it certainly won’t encounter the kinds of driver incompatibility issues Vista had to deal with.
On loading Windows 7, though, I was more relieved to be rid of Vista than excited about the new product. But then again, I wonder, why should we get excited about an operating system anyway?
Historically, Microsoft has sought to brand the desktop and make Windows into the environment you swim in. But operating systems should neither be seen nor heard, in my opinion. The less obtrusive they are the better.
I get excited by applications that will actually do stuff that I need to do without destroying my soul in the process. Mostly, these are simple applications, often free, often open source. Applications such as Irfanview for simple picture editing for the web and Audacity for audio.
I use Open Office, but have trouble getting enthused about it. For serious work I still revert to Microsoft Office, more out of habit than anything else.
Windows 7 should do well, and you shouldn’t believe the people who say it will be the last client OS. They said that about Vista too. Client operating systems and client-side computing generally will be around for quite a while yet and Windows will be the dominant platform.
For business, Windows 7 will be far more compelling than Vista. You can only sit out an upgrade for so long and, lets face it, with Vista, Windows went through a step change in several areas, not the least being security. That said, backward compatibility will be a challenge.
Windows 7 will also allow more businesses to upgrade without having to completely refresh their PC fleets. In this economic environment, that will be welcome.
Windows Vista, according to one estimate, reached 18 percent adoption. That was an utter failure. To say Windows 7 will do better than that isn’t really saying very much at all. But it will. Windows is still the standard.