Windows 7 and its biggest rival – XP?

Is Windows 7 here to save the day?  Is it the hero that everyones waiting for?  After months of asking I havent had a clear answer.
Is Windows 7 here to save the day? Is it the hero that everyones waiting for? After months of asking I havent had a clear answer.

My (past) life as a Windows user at home

Before you get into this article I must make one think very clear.  I have not yet used Windows 7 and refuse until the product is on the shelves and I can part with cash for it (yes I will be buying it so that I can conduct a review of it on this blog)

I was an unhappy Vista user at home and whilst at the time I was dual booting (I had done so with XP too) it was Vista that finally convinced me that I didn’t require a dependency on Microsoft products and I switched to 100% FOSS with my favorite Linux distro.

Now, years on, I find myself in a position where even if Windows 7 offered a “killer feature” that was tailored exactly to my requirements, I probably wouldn’t migrate away from Linux since I’ve taken the time to become proficient with it and am very happy with the functionality (and freedom) I get from using it.  I am sure I cannot be alone and I wonder how many other people who experienced Vista made the move to Linux and as Windows 7 looms on the horizon cannot imagine changing ever changing back.

That being said, I don’t think it can be argued that there is a massive base of happy XP users and when I first started writing my opinions on Windows 7 and its impending release I stated that the biggest rival to 7 was (IMO) XP.

In the interests of fairness though I wanted to hear about what exactly it was that Windows 7 offered that cannot be achieved either natively or via 3rd party software in XP.  Furthermore I wanted to know what it was that Windows 7 could do that I wasn’t already doing with my Linux distro of choice.

The killer feature?

Over the last few months we have had a couple of Microsoft employees that have given responses on this blog.  You can see one of them here: however  IMO there has been nothing offered that isn’t simply a feature that most wouldn’t use or just a renaming of a feature that we already have.  That is my opinion, as I always say (and this is to anyone) if you can correct me on this, please do.

So lets have a little look at some of the comments in respect of Windows 7 and then we will move onto some issues which users may not be fully aware of that they may wish to further investigate:

I like Windows 7, but if you were to ask me what the big feature, the ‘wow’ that would make you want to go to the trouble of moving to Windows 7, I’d be left without anything to say. Heck, look at Gralla list, number one on the list is the new taskbar. Microsoft wants me to spend big bucks for a new taskbar!?

Most of you though are happy running XP. If that’s you, I’ll be darned if I can think of a single, significant change that you’ll get from running Windows 7 instead of XP.

Source:  Steven J Vaughan-Nicols

If you have been reading my articles over the last few days you will see the interesting conversation I had with John Obeto.  That article is here: Whilst I know Mr Obeto has not replied to my second post challenging his reply, I expect he is busy and since he was kind enough to respond once and allow my second comment to be posted on his site (his comments are moderated) I really can’t complain and if nothing else gives people “food for thought” (hopefully)

So lets take a look at some other comments from around the web, but before we do that, lets go back to one more comment from Mr Vaughan-Nicols:

if you’re using Vista-you poor, poor person-yes, you should migrate to Windows 7. After all, Windows 7 is really just Vista without the warts. Otherwise, no, I don’t see any compelling reason to switch.

Steven J Vaughan-Nicols

Over on another site the following observation is made about Vista/7:

Windows Vista was sort of thrown together, the technology that lies underneath in Vista has be tweaked in Windows 7

Source: Mike

Which (if true) is great news, although as a Vista customer do you feel resentful that you have to dip into your pocket to upgrade again from an OS that Mike above claims “was sort of thrown together”?

Joe Wilcox (previously of Microsoft-Watch) had this to say in regards to Windows 7:

After commandingly executing Windows 7 development, Microsoft had run off the track right before the finish line. Suddenly, Windows 7 is a disaster potentially like its predecessor. Could anything be worse than Vista?

Source: Joe Wilcox

Everyone is excited about Windows 7, but businesses in this recession want to keep what they have

Source: Mark Crall, president of Charlotte Tech Care Team

Even a hint of a bug with Windows 7 brings back memories of Vista.  IMO the last thing Microsoft needs prior to launchday coming off the back of Vista.
Even a hint of a bug with Windows 7 brings back memories of Vista for me. IMO the last thing Microsoft needs prior to launchday coming off the back of Vista.


As I have said before, Vista (IMO) was not the resounding sucess story that Microsoft wanted it to be (nor what the MS fan’s and faithful want you to believe either) however that being said, I think it is agreed that what Windows 7 turns out to be it will be an improvement on Vista.

This would be great if it was not for many forums/posts/comments displaying users unhappyness at Microsoft for their Vista experience.  I think if you check Google yourself you will find many people with issues regarding Vista.   In respect of 7 then, it is important for Microsoft to move away from the Vista image (IMO).   It was with surprise (and a little sympathy) that news of a chkdsk bug alleged to be found in Windows 7 RTM.

When this news broke (around 6th August) many sites went mad, predicting doom and gloom for Windows 7.  It was counter argued that the bug was not major and would not affect “average users” and it was also argued that it would be fixed via patch on release.   Whilst I was not one of the doom and gloom crowd, my observation on COLA was that regardless of how big or small the bug was, it was the last piece of news that Microsoft needed (IMO).  I think many people have been disappointed with Vista and news of a bug in 7 would not (IMO) give them confidence in Microsoft’s latest offering, since we have had years of the MS faithful telling us that “Vista is loved” and “theres nothing wrong with Vista”

The bug occurs when the CHKDSK /R command is initiated on a non-system volume. Memory usage of the chkdsk.exe process soars until the system is using over 90% physical memory. In some cases this will cause the system to become unresponsive and unstable.

Source: Cyril Kowaliski

Moving on from the bug issue, its often touted that Windows 7 performance is superb.  It should be noted that any tests are really only relevant to the machines they were tested on.  With that in mind, regardless of the specs, you would expect Windows 7 to perform better than XP would you not?  Take a look at this link, which shows Windows 7 coming in behind XP in 3d tests and in one result coming in behind Vista.  Oh dear.

Heres part of the review from that site:

Vista was able to beat Windows 7 by 16% on the mid-range and 9% on the high-end…


Obviously its worth visiting the site and checking out all the stats, its also worth considering that these tests were conducted on a beta, but to me personally I had been led to believe Windows 7 was going to be the “killer” of all other Windows versions, these figures (IMO) certainly don’t show that.

This is why in my opinion it is so important to wait until the product is actually on the shelves before making a comment or getting excited.

Windows 7 killer features?

We often see XP mode mentioned for Windows 7 (or XPM) but lets make a few things clear.  Firstly yes XPM is designed to allow XP apps that won’t run on 7 function, but there are issues which it cannot solve (allegedly) It is always worth checking with Microsoft that this position hasn’t/doesn’t change, but take a look at this list:

1. XP Mode does not support DirectX – If you have a DX app/game/package that requires it, XPM will be of no use to you.

2. XP Mode is only available in the more expensive versions of Windows 7.

3. Probably (IMO) most importantly XPM needs a modern chipset to run.  It is reported that you will require 2 gig of ram minimum and an Intel VT or AMD-V processor (or similar CPU with virtualization technology)

What else?  Well we see many features with fancy names, however if these are convincing you of “killer features” then I suggest you Google them first.  All the “fancy names” I have been shown turned out to be features that I either already have or wouldn’t have a need for.  Try it yourself.  Maybe the idea of a new taskbar has sold Windows 7 to you?  if thats the case and you are happy to pay money for it fine, but if a new taskbar is all you are after I think you can find an alternative within a Linux distro and better yet it won’t cost you anything.

So whats your alternative?

I bet you are thinking “this is where Goblin says try “Linux” if thats the case you are in for a disapointment.  I understand that there is base of people who love running XP and this is why I have always maintained that the biggest threat to Windows 7 is XP.  Linux migration whilst (IMO) has been increasing recently has still some way to go before toppling the Microsoft giant, however it can be seen in the increases so far that people are considering and implementing  change.

I have often said that IMO mass migration to the Linux platform in a short period of time would be harmful, I believe the “average user” was largely responsible for the product that was Vista with their demand for eye candy and “one click fixes for one click fixes”  You have to keep in mind that whilst the MS faithful like to highlight the many distro’s of Linux as a weakness, the fact that Windows mostly has to be a “one size fits all” IMO is why the product has ended up like it was.

If you are happy with XP and cannot see any of these killer features either, why are you considering upgrading?  I’ll put that issue to one side as at the end of the day it comes down to your choice.

Even the announcement of a Google OS has got people talking and a screenshot has not even been released yet.  IMHO this has stolen some of the thunder of Microsofts hero OS.
Even the announcement of a Google OS has got people talking and a screenshot has not even been released yet. IMHO this has stolen some of the thunder of Microsofts hero OS.

The party pooper

Ok, the last piece of this article looks at something which in my opinion has taken a little of the thunder away from the impending release of Windows 7, that would be the announcement by Google that mid 2010 (or there abouts) they will be releasing their own OS.  This has met with much excitment and whilst I still hold with my view of “wait until its released properly” I can’t help but be a little pleased that a large brandname such as Google is going to releasing a product that is another option for the end user.

So, since nobody has come forward with this killer feature and nobody can even highlight a killer feature that can be done in 7 that can’t in Linux I can only conclude that there isn’t one and the only draw I can see for Windows 7 is that “its better than Vista”.  Maybe if you are an unhappy Vista user you can consider trying an alternative first to see if like me the dependency on Microsoft products is simply an addiction which really has no relevance in modern computing?

I think the Windows 7 issue for me can be put to bed now, but before we do lets end on a lighter note.

Maybe this should be the new Windows 7 advert?  I think its more relevant the current “Im a PC “ones.

Goblin –


18 thoughts on “Windows 7 and its biggest rival – XP?

Add yours

  1. I admin a mixed environment, Macs, PCs, to be more detailed, OSX, XP, some Fista (Vista), server and desktop Linux (mainly Mint as an alt for some users and Redhat on the server side) The shop I work at received Windows 7 (Fista 7 if you like) and I have installed it on 4 test machines for eval purposes. It`s still typical clunky MS, it IS faster than Fista granted, but in all realism the only thing I see different is $100 for a new taskbar and the built-in ability to burn an ISO (all old news on the Linux and Mac side) As a matter of fact within 1 week the registry started getting dirty. I`m sure you`ll find more to compare with your review, so I`ll keep this short and not steal your thunder.

  2. Thanks for that!

    I think if XP didn’t exist then 7 would be an essential upgrade for many (from Vista) I think the problem comes that after XP matured, Vista was not liked (IMO) 7 doesnt offer anything revolutionary or ground breaking in order to make the purchase. IMO

    Maybe thats why some Vista users went back to XP and maybe thats why we see an increase in alternatives?

    Thanks very much for your comments!


  3. More to come in the following weeks, after all it falls on my shoulders whether we buy licenses for Win 7 or not (I like to call it Fista 7, because you WILL end up shaking your fist at it) As well in the interest of keeping my job objectivity is paramount, I`ll be keeping a very open mind regarding this. So will company X that I work for upgrade to 7 or not?

  4. In some ways I am lucky compared to others, that I do not need to pay Microsoft for Windows Seven or Vista. In fact, I have never installed on my computer, or customer’s computers, Vista to date. But I have replaced some Vista systems with XP, as requested by users. But not using Vista on my personal computers, for what I do, is not a problem. Google supplies all the data for repair that I need, to help others. I flat out refuse to buy, give MS a penny, for junk. But then, I can understand why others might want it, just I think they might be wasting their money (which is theirs to do with as they please). Mostly I maintain one XP system to help sometimes to assist in Virus cleaning. Truth is I do less of that now, and discourage people from giving me that kind of work. XP in my mind was the last fair Windows OS that MS will ever make, even though 2000 was better in many ways. My dislike for Vista, and most likely Seven (with holding mostly till I see it come out) extends to the fact, that I will not buy a laptop with this software on it. Why reward a company that forces you to buy bloatware with DRM as the only real feature over XP?

    22% of windows users in the USA are supposedly running non legit Windows, and you can guess that its 99% of those are using XP. These folks, will not go out and buy Seven, you can count of that, but a few might someday buy a new computer with it on already. Mostly they going hang onto XP, or move to Linux.

    Businesses are more and more questioning the more frequent Windows/Office upgrade cycles. This is becoming a major expense for everyone, and for this reason, more users, and especially businesses are going be trying and using Linux, instead of moving to Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, etc.

    XP so far runs more software than Vista or Seven. The games that MS tried to push as DirectX 10 (vista only) games, were flops. Gaming is better on XP still to this day. Plus, there are fewer and fewer true gamers percentage wise than back a few years, due most likely to consoles. XP can be made just as secure as Vista/Seven if you know how to setup a normal (limited) user account, and all the other tons of anti-virus, anti-malware programs. Oh, and get rid of don’t use, malware targets like IE, Outlook, Windows Messenger, etc.

    The point I am trying to make is XP still does what most users want it to, without the additional cost of buying new. And also XP does it better than Vista/Seven, IMO. Better XP is, but if you want Best, than use GNU/Linux. The true real upgrade path for Windows users is to keep XP and dual boot with Linux. That option costs nothing out of pocket.

    And asked many times, what does Windows Seven do that XP cannot?

  5. Quote “And asked many times, what does Windows Seven do that XP cannot?”

    Good luck getting an answer to that…I will buy you a beer if you manage it!

    I personally think the question should now be “what does Windows Seven do that any other OS cannot?”

  6. Mr Dee blowing his top…;tback


    Stickfu, the reason why you keep bringing up the laptop its because its some how hurting you that you never got one to review and optionally keep. You are bringing up the laptop because its something you want, no other reason. Obsession over a 3 year old piece of hardware is nothing but an example of grudge over something that does not make any sense. Its quite obvious where your priorities are.

    You probably complain to your wife at night, “there is this guy in the Caribbean that has a laptop I desperately want, so I am going to harass him, maybe he will run a free gig on his blog and let me get it”. Honey I really hope he does, let me go on CNET and harass some more, I am desperate for a free way to get to use Windows Vista/Windows 7, I hope I get it from him.

    Maybe that wife he complains to is pentest – try and get his desktop too, I could definitely use that.

  7. @chew:
    It nice to see people expose the M$ shills who try to post as just normal users. Its not so much about exposing the “shill” himself, even though he has done wrong. Its not even as much as exposing the evil that the company that is somehow, paying, or rewarding the shill. What it is about, is educating the public, that M$ is engaged in doing this, at all levels, beyond anything ethical, and perhaps legal as well. Once more of these shills can be exposed, perhaps the public will start to question those who blindly promote their interests and defame all others. Of course, there are also journalists, and I use that word litely here, guess bloggers would be the better word, that receive those free laptops as well. Ed Bott comes to mind right off, believe he said he gave his away, after the news came out that MS gave him and others some.

    An interesting exchange by Stickfu, for sure. This world needs more people like Stickfu who are not afraid to tell the truth. Chew,thank for the link, and the interesting reading.

  8. It was my pleasure, I ultimately have no problems with people using platform xyz as long as they`re happy with it and it suits their needs. But what i find personally offensive is a “trusted reviewer” seams to have no problem logging onto to discussions and lambasting anyone and anything not MS, to me thats hypocrisy to the extreme, considering he does conduct MS product reviews and really thats not a big problem, the problem is the lack of objectivity and the lack of ethics. Could you imagine the outrage this would cause in any other industry? and I`m surprised CNET even stands for it.

  9. Hi Chew!

    Thanks for all your contributions over the recent posts. As I said to Chips, if you want to write any articles and be a part of Openbytes, please feel free to email me….

  10. There is absolutely no reason for XP users to migrate to Windows 7. With the Vienna Transformation pack, you are able to change the XP look and feel to Windows 7:

    I have tested Windows 7 RC1 and my conclusion is that it’s even worst then Vista (especially the hardware recognition).

    The Microsoft faithful want to make you believe that it runs faster and smoother than its predecessor.

    In fact, in the beginning that is right, but as soon as if you installed anti-virus and anti-spyware software, you won’t recognize the additional speed any longer. It gets as slow as Vista was.

    Please don’t let them fool you 😉

  11. Quote “With the Vienna Transformation pack, you are able to change the XP look and feel to Windows 7”

    Thanks very much Marti! Thats certainly a link I can use in the future!


  12. That`s an interesting idea Goblin, thanks for the offer, My schedule is quite wonky lately but I`m sure something can be arranged feel free to drop me a line.

  13. Here`s another Fista 7 revelation, It really is`nt that slim of an OS, configured on an AMD AthlonX2 64 machine running at 2Ghz with 2 gigs of ram at start up it is using 575 M of ram, CPU usage is stable at 10% and that`s with zero items in startup folder and zero applications launched. As a comparison I am posting this using a Dual core 2Ghz Macbook Pro running OSX Leopard 10.5.8 also with 2 gigs of ram and it is currently using 438M of ram, CPU usage is stable at 6% with a browser open (posting purposes). To be fair not the most scientific comparison but I believe it does supply some raw data considering Most Windows 7 users will more than likely be comparing it directly against OSX Leopard (and the soon to be released Snow Leopard) Hope this helpful to someone.

  14. @chew,

    It be hard to prove, so most likely he is just a fanboi of some kind, even seems somewhat moderate in some ways.

    But the Moonlight article, and thread was also worth the read in addition to that. Thanks!

    My problem with Mono, and Moonlight, is this, its krap for Linux. Just from the comments you linked to, Moonlight in Linux, which depends on Mono, is only at Beta 2, while the Silverlight version is at 3.0 finial. And Moonlight will if I read the comments correctly, not play the Silverlight Flash Movies from Netflix (although I had already deduced that). But I bet you, that Moonlight will play all of Microsoft’s advertisements that they sell. Mono, IMO, has no great killer app, Moonlight being the closest thing they can come to one. My guess, is that if Silverlight actually makes it in time, one would be better off having the wine folks getting it to work, than depending on the Mono team. Personally, Adobe Flash works well for me, and as a former Netflix user, I know that the President of Netflix is also on the board of Microsoft. Silverlights one claim to fame is Netflixs, a good reason to buy Blockbuster next time. That is where my money will go.

    1. I`m hoping for html 5 to be picked up by web devs, it would be interesting to see Adobe`s and MS`s reaction to this competition. Regarding the fanboi his past comments to me seam to indicate something else, I`m sure if he answers the current thread things will become clearer.

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