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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.



Vista’s Prematurely Reported Death 

Ode to Broken Windows (Vista) 

Vista Views: What Users Say About the Windows Operating System 

Microsoft, Apple, Google Sued for Patent Infringement 


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.