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: https://openbytes.wordpress.com/2009/06/17/a-reply-to-open-bytes/ 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 http://blogs.computerworld.com/14542/seven_reasons_to_skip_windows_7
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: https://openbytes.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/proprietary-v-foss-a-chat-with-john-obeto/ 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 http://blogs.computerworld.com/14542/seven_reasons_to_skip_windows_7
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
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 http://www.joewilcox.com/2009/08/my-terrible-windows-7-moment/
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
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.
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.
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org