Windows 7 Huge Upgrade, Upgrading Impossible
Walter Mossberg says Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 7, is good enough to help erase memories of the Vista fiasco. Not only is it “the best version of Windows Microsoft has produced” and “a boost to productivity and a pleasure to use” but it’s every bit as good as Apple’s Snow Leopard.
Windows 7 introduces real advances in organizing your programs and files, arranging your taskbar and desktop, and quickly viewing and launching the page or document you want, when you want it. It also has cool built-in touch-screen features.
It removes a lot of clutter. And it mostly banishes Vista’s main flaws—sluggishness; incompatibility with third-party software and hardware; heavy hardware requirements; and constant, annoying security warnings.
It’s a little expensive — $120 for the version most home users would want — but probably worth it if it truly delivers a much better user experience. After all, most of us spend several hours a day in front of a computer.
One small problem: Upgrading from Windows XP, the version most of us are using because Vista was so awful, is next to impossible.
They’ll have to wipe out their hard disks after backing up their files elsewhere, then install Windows 7, then restore their personal files, then re-install all their programs from the original CDs or downloaded installer files. Then, they have to install all the patches and upgrades to those programs from over the years.
Microsoft includes an Easy Transfer wizard to help with this, but it moves only personal files, not programs. This painful XP upgrade process is one of the worst things about Windows 7 and will likely drive many XP owners to either stick with what they’ve got or wait and buy a new one.
For years, Apple produced better software but ran it’s business stupidly. Windows shrewdly undercut them on price, marketing, and openness to third party software making its products so ubiquitous that it wasn’t worth it for most of us to buy Apple. In recent years, though, Microsoft seems to have lost its business acumen as well. Whether it’s because Bill Gates and Paul Allen have moved on to other endeavors, satisfaction with the status quo, or the constraints that various anti-trust suits have put around their old model, they’ve made it much harder to justify buying their products.
My guess is that I won’t bother with Windows 7 until and unless we get new machines at the office. I’m certainly not willing to go through such a radical installation routine to test out a new operating system when the existing one more-or-less suits my needs. Let alone do so on two PCs and a notebook. Especially when I’d still have XP at work, forcing me to have two different workflows.
UPDATE: My summary that Mossberg finds Windows 7 “every bit as good as Apple’s Snow Leopard” elides some subtle distinctions. Here’s what he says in full:
In recent years, I, like many other reviewers, have argued that Apple’s Mac OS X operating system is much better than Windows. That’s no longer true. I still give the Mac OS a slight edge because it has a much easier and cheaper upgrade path; more built-in software programs; and far less vulnerability to viruses and other malicious software, which are overwhelmingly built to run on Windows.
Now, however, it’s much more of a toss-up between the two rivals. Windows 7 beats the Mac OS in some areas, such as better previews and navigation right from the taskbar, easier organization of open windows on the desktop and touch-screen capabilities. So Apple will have to scramble now that the gift of a flawed Vista has been replaced with a reliable, elegant version of Windows.
So, he slightly prefers Snow Leopard but thinks they’re in the same league and Windows has some advantages.