Windows 7: The good, the bad and the ugly

I’ve been playing with Windows 7 for quite a while. Public Beta, Release Candidate and Full version have all found their way onto three of my machines.

The Good:
It’s fast and light on its feet. It boots up and shuts down as quickly as XP and a heck of a lot faster than Vista. Two years ago, the pre-release version of Vista bought one of my machines to its knees; Windows 7 runs quite nicely on it. This means that 7 can be installed on a netbook; there is a reason why Vista was not preinstalled on the vast majority of netbooks; they weren’t “man enough” to run it.

The Bad:
Windows 7 has the same security model as Vista; even down to the annoying User Account Control (UAC), also known as “Are You Sure? Are You Sure? Are You Sure?“. This means that Windows 7 is not the stellar leap forward in security that Microsoft would like you to think it is. When patch Tuesday rolls around, Vista and 7 seem to have a lot of overlap.

The Ugly:
Microsoft has a long history of fixing an old product, adding a couple of new features and selling it to you all over again. They fixed Windows 95 and called it Windows 98 (then they broke it again and called it Windows ME). They “consumerized” (i.e., “prettied up”) Windows 2000 and called it Windows XP (and even then, it took them another two years to get the security to work right). Now they have fixed the main problems in Vista (too big, too slow) and called it Windows 7. What they should have done was offer every Vista user a low-cost (say $50) upgrade to 7, along with a public apology for the pain they inflicted on the world over the past two years.

The Bottom Line

  • If you are buying a new machine, get one with Windows 7. If it has Vista, make sure you have a free upgrade.
  • If you are running Vista and are less than happy with it, upgrade.
  • If you are running XP and are happy with it, do not upgrade unless you really need to.

I would like to end with a history lesson. Pay attention to the version numbers.

Windows 95 (4.0), 98 (4.10.1998), 98SE (4.10.2222A) and Me (4.9?) were all part of the same family (though many have opined that “Me” was the bastard child).

Windows 2000 (5.0) was, im my exalted opinion, the best thing MS ever did. It was also the basis of XP (5.1); if you turn off all of XP’s dancing baloney, it looks and behaves much like Windows 2000.

Vista (6.0) was a good idea, waaay overdue (MS scrapped the code and restarted in 2004!) and poorly executed. If you don’t believe me, wipe a Vista machine, install XP and see how much faster it runs.

In a supreme twist of irony, Windows 7 is actually Windows version 6.1. Am I the only one who finds this funny?

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