Seventh Heaven?

Windows 7 is now officially available for purchase and should be pre-installed on any newly purchased Windows computers. So now is the time for reality to set in. Is Windows 7 going to restore Microsoft’s credibility, or will it be another failure like Vista?

For the record, I do not recommend that users attempt to upgrade to Windows 7 right away, at least on computers that are considered important (if you have spare machines or virtual machine software feel free to go for it!). It is prudent to allow the early adopters to unearth real-world issues and let Microsoft release their first wave of updates before attempting to migrate to Windows 7.

Windows 7 has been getting good reviews during its testing phase. However, so did Vista. But this time it seems that Microsoft has taken the time to properly and thoroughly test this release of Windows (you may or may not recall that Microsoft was under great pressure to release the long-delayed Vista). However, with relatively few perceptible feature improvements, there are many that feel Windows 7 is mostly just a bug-fix release for Vista.

So will Windows 7 triumph or bomb? I think that the end result will be somewhere in the middle. Windows 7 will likely be perceived as better than Vista (assuming no major catastrophes), so the extremely negative reputation of Microsoft’s shipping operating system will be lost. And since most new PCs will ship with Windows 7, it will not be hard for Microsoft to claim that Windows 7 is being adopted at a steady rate (just like they did with Vista – even if the customer downgraded to XP). However, the flip side will be that most users won’t really find anything all that great about Windows 7, so it won’t generate any great buzz as compared to other popular technologies. Basically, I believe Windows 7 will be adequate for most Windows users so it will do well enough in the market, but it won’t provide any breakthrough new features that will rank it high in the minds of the mainstream.

The other factor that will drag on Windows 7 is the ever present threat of viruses and spyware. Windows 7 is virtually just as vulnerable to these threats as the previous few versions of Windows were. As adequate as Windows 7 may be, malware infections will continue to cause users frustrations. In my observation, malware is the most visible reason that users switch to other operating systems. Yes, Vista was bad, but many users will just put up with bad. However, malware is intrusive and dealing with it is time-consuming and expensive. Unless Microsoft can address this issue, it will continue to be the elephant in the room that will cost them mind and market-share in the long run.

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