Today’s the big day for Microsoft’s client operating system crew – Windows 7 is now generally available:
Today Microsoft Corp. announced the worldwide availability of its new Windows 7 operating system. Windows 7 delivers on a simple premise: make it easier for people to do the things they want on a PC. The new operating system offers a streamlined user interface and significant new features that make everyday tasks easier and allow people to get the most out of computers of all styles and sizes.
Er, about those new Windows 7 features:
Best of all, Windows 7 represents a departure from Microsoft’s usual “success is measured by the length of the feature list” philosophy. This time around, it was, “Polish, optimize and streamline what we’ve already got.”
Rather like a service pack, eh? Yes there is new eye candy in Windows 7, but wariness of antitrust regulators forced some standard applications to be dropped along the way:
Finally, out of fear of antitrust headaches, Microsoft has stripped Windows 7 of some important accessory programs. Believe it or not, software for managing photos, editing videos, reading PDF documents, maintaining a calendar, managing addresses, chatting online or writing e-mail doesn’t come with Windows 7.
What kind of operating system doesn’t come with an e-mail program?
Instead, you’re supposed to download these free apps yourself from a Microsoft Web site. It’s not a huge deal; some companies, including Dell, plan to preinstall them on new computers. But a lot of people will be in for some serious confusion — especially when they discover that the Windows 7 installer has deleted their existing Vista copies of Windows Mail, Movie Maker, Calendar, Contacts and Photo Gallery. (Mercifully, it preserves your data.)
Some good news is that since Windows 7 is Vista SP3, the device driver model did not change and Vista device drivers will work for the most part on Windows 7. However, you really should hit Microsoft’s Web site and download the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor to check your Vista system for incompatibilities before upgrading. For example, I have an Epson scanner that apparently needs an update.
Finally, if I seem a little grumpy about Windows 7 – I’m not really. It seems like the operating system Vista should have been and would have been if not for a development catastrophe. I fully expect that businesses who were reluctant to adopt Vista will rapidly get on board since the defects of usability and compatibility have been remedied (by time if nothing else in the latter case).
What I do find irritating is that Vista users are being charged for what is effectively a service pack. Through no fault of their own they purchased an operating system that wasn’t finished yet. Admittedly Vista SP1 and SP2 helped, but now that Vista is finally finished Microsoft has slapped a different brand on it and is charging for the upgrade.