Windows 7: The Favored Son?

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Well I hate to say it, but I’m excited for Windows 7. I downloaded the beta the other day and burned it to a DVD that is now sitting on my desk taunting me. I was going to write a blog post about my experience with the beta, but since I haven’t had time to install it yet it’ll have to wait. Then I started wondering, “why am I excited for Windows 7?” I wasn’t excited for Vista, or even Window XP. In fact, I continued my monthly ritual of re-installing Windows 98 SE for several years before I finally caved and bought XP.

Emil Protalinski, contributing writer for Ars Technica, writes that he’s “…watched the media completely destroy the public opinion of Vista” [article]. While I can’t say I disagree with his argument, I don’t think the media was the real reason Vista failed.

Windows Vista was released five years after Windows XP. For a little perspective, consider that we went from Windows 98 to Windows XP in only three years (Windows XP was released in 2001). That’s an incredible advancement and today Windows XP is still the most widely used operating system in the world.

Vista’s release was unfortunately doomed from the beginning. Consumers were confused by the six different editions of Vista; wondered why they should spend so much to replace something that was working well already (Windows XP); and couldn’t trust that their new “Vista Capable” computer could actually run Vista. Microsoft also failed to deliver on several key features of the new operating system, such as “WinFS.”

Now, I used Vista for about a month after it came out, and to be quite honest it was an improvement over Windows XP. It was more stable, more secure and more efficient than Windows XP. However, It also required significantly beefier hardware to run and had some significant compatibility issues with certain legacy software. Frankly it just wasn’t “enough” of an improvement over Windows XP and certainly not a $300 to $400 improvement.

Now here comes Windows 7 and people can’t stop talking about it. Why is that? Vista certainly set the bar low, but it’s not even that it’s simply better than Vista. Frankly the buzz is that Windows 7 will be the best Windows operating system ever.

Honestly I think the issue here is that Windows 7 is really what Vista should have been in the first place. You can’t have good hype if you don’t have a good product, people will eventually catch on. Microsoft has really taken users’ complaints about Vista to heart and has made significant performance and usability improvements. They’ve made the Windows 7 beta easily available and are getting it into the hands of as many reviewers as possible. This has led to increased coverage and good marks all around. This is probably a better way to spend their marketing budget instead of hiring Jerry Seinfeld.

The big question is, if Microsoft had taken Blizzard’s “done when it’s done” policy and delayed the release of Vista, would things have been different?