January 26, 2009

WSJ’s Mossberg on Windows 7 Beta – Leaves Vista in the Dust

I rather enjoy reading Walt Mossberg's Personal Tech column.  Walt likes to tell things as they are, the good and the bad, without slanting it with too much tech enthusiasm or jaded pessimism.  He recently loaded the Windows 7 Beta onto two laptops and overall had some good things to share about it, including a personal video. If his experience is any indicator, performance is noticeably better than Vista, its nag prompts are better controlled, and there's some interesting tweaks to the user interface relating to the task bar for better control.

I'm also interested in the new multi-touch input feature likely heavily influenced by Apple - think iPhone and iTouch for sizing photos and videos with your two fingers.  But as it requires new hardware that supports multi-touch, I just found another compelling reason to look for a new laptop when Windows 7 is officially released.

On the downside, he notes that currently only Vista users can upgrade directly to Windows 7, not XP users.  Supposedly there will be a migration process from XP that will involve several hops aimed at preserving data, but it doesn't sound too appetizing.  This may affect some, perhaps more the consumer and small business side.  However, as most experts will tell you, a fresh install of a new OS is usually far better than an upgrade, and I'd expect many enterprise deployments to follow this curve.

Also, he confirmed what I've been hearing that Microsoft is removing some of its basic free apps (Windows Mail, Calendar, Movie Maker, Photo Gallery, etc.) from the Windows 7 installation package.  Instead, there will be Windows Live counterparts available for download, with the idea that they will be more web enabled.  I tend to use more third party apps for those tasks anyway (e.g., Outlook, Photoshop, etc.), so it's probably not as big of a deal as it may sound, and if it helps Windows 7 to be a bit leaner than Vista, that should be a very good thing.

Many of us are hoping that Windows 7 will be what Vista should have been.  Don't expect too much of a departure from Vista, though - it's been said repeatedly that Windows 7 shares much of Vista's kernel (the main operating component) - which would also explain why Walt didn't experience any compatibility issues with some leading third party apps.  If his first impression with the beta is any indication, it sounds like Microsoft has learned from some of its mistakes with Vista.  But as with any major new release, we'll definitely be hearing more as its release date nears.

Topic(s):   Mobile Tech & Gadgets
Posted by Jeff Beard