The Microsoft brand has taking a thrashing lately, mainly for their slow, unwieldly, needlessly complex, and often counter-intuitive Vista operating system. While some important steps have been taken to fix the bugs that made Vista so unpopular in the beginning, Microsoft has realized, to its credit, that the Vista brand itself is tainted and that no magical service pack is going to salvage its reputation.
Instead, Microsoft appears to have redoubled efforts on its next operating system, officially named Windows 7, to get it to market sooner with all of Vista’s deficiencies repaired. In many ways it’s a fresh start, a chance to begin again with a blank slate.
There’s no firm date for the release of W7, but it’s expected to be on shelves by mid-2009 or early 2010. There is a chance that the launch date could be earlier, but it’s also a safe bet that Microsoft is going to want this next operating system to be perfect at launch and perfection takes time. After Vista, this thing is going to be scrutinized down to the last line of code.
In the meantime, most people will probably be able to continue to use Windows XP (which is now almost eight years old), or find ways to live with Vista and its lags, memory and processor hogging, and those infernal User Account Control pop-up windows — which still exist in W7, but with an option to turn it off.
Some people will have no choice but to upgrade to Vista because their hardware demands it or because they need to buy a new computer. Actually, it’s not as bad an option as it used to be. I haven’t tried it myself, but I understand that Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) did fix a lot of the original bugs and makes Vista more what it was promised to be at the release in terms of system performance.
That said, I believe by the time SP2 for Vista comes out most people will be forced to admit that Vista is a superior operating system compared to XP for most applications, but that argument is largely academic now that Microsoft has apparently decided to stop polishing the Vista turd and move on to the next thing. People want things to work right the first time, not two years later.
Which leaves the question, what is Windows 7?
Microsoft released a beta last week that suggests it will include a new user interface, new taskbar, live gadgets, use of Windows Live Services to sync computers (allowing you to use any computer in the world, and essentially turn it into your home computer by logging into your account), support for Window Azure cloud computing, support for next generation tablet devices, support for multi-touch screens, high-level graphics support and 3D processing by software (as hardware developments eliminate the need for separate graphics cards and processors), improved parallel computing to support multi-core and multi-processor machines, streamlined operation that requires less power and less memory, better file synchronization between computers and peripherals like cell phones, resolved compatibility issues with software and hardware, built-in speech and handwriting identification technology, better security, faster boot and shut down times, and a lot more.