Does Microsoft Have a Chance with Windows 7?

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print

From a solution provider's perspective, the beta of the much anticipated replacement for Window Vista is not a dramatic change, but it does make small improvements.

It's a sure sign that Microsoft has unofficially given up on Windows Vista when a beta version of Vista's replacement, Windows 7, is flooding the Internet. The real question here becomes, "Was Windows 7 Beta 1 leaked intentionally?" Perhaps the backdoor release was a way to subdue the feverish backlash against Vista? Or perhaps it was truly a mistake by an overzealous Microsoft employee? It really makes you wonder what internal security controls the company has in place.

While those questions may go unanswered, the simple fact is that the more people talk about Windows 7, the less likely it is that they are going to talk about (or bash) Vista. The blogosphere and the news outlets are already awash with opinion and news on Windows 7 and, for some, Windows 7 is the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

For the channel, the question is, "How good does Windows 7 really need to be?"

Surprisingly, the answer is that Windows 7 does not have to be all that much better than Vista, at least from a technical standpoint—all Microsoft has to accomplish with Windows 7 is to undo the mind-set behind the negative opinions many people have about Vista and dress the product up a little. But undoing the anti-Vista sentiments is no easy job, and it is going to take a lot of marketing dollars and the power of the channel to turn Windows 7 into a solution that really has nothing to solve.

Windows 7: What's the big deal?
Those expecting and hoping that Windows 7 will be a major departure from Vista, or, at the very least, a complete rewrite of the underlying code are going to be sorely disappointed. Windows 7 Beta 1 amounts to little more than Vista on a diet, with some new window dressing.

Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. Although many would disagree, Vista is a pretty good operating system, it just lacks a little finesse and shows a bit of bloat. If Windows 7 effectively addresses those two issues, it could help the channel to rekindle interest in a Microsoft OS.

Our initial take on Windows 7 is that it can accomplish that: The new operating system has the look and feel of a "cleaner" Vista. From a user's point of view, the new task bar seems infinitely more intuitive than in previous versions of Windows. The task bar offers large icons that launch applications directly, so users no longer have to navigate through menus and create desktop short cuts to access their favorite applications. It's a small change that amounts to a big improvement to the user experience.



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Also contributing to ease of use is the "Jump List," which offers a context-sensitive menu to launch applications or open recently accessed files. It's a feature that new PC users will appreciate. A word of warning here: Much as with the "ribbon" interface found in Microsoft Office, you'll either take an instant like or dislike to the new task bar in Windows 7.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com