Does Microsoft Have a Chance with Windows 7?By Frank Ohlhorst | 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.