Windows 7 is now available as a free and legal download. Of course, it is still technically a beta version and might do terrible things to your PC (presumably not as terrible as Vista, though). The catch is that the software is only good until June 2010. In March of 2010 it will start shutting down your PC every two hours (something Windows has often done by crashing)-presumably to annoy people into buying a copy: “Wow, this software is f@$%ing annoying. I feel compelled to give Microsoft $300.”
I did download a copy, but have yet to try it out. In my youth, I’d have installed it right away. Back then, I was out on the bleeding edge. These days I still like to try out new software, but my tolerance for installing all my software and drivers over and over has all but evaporated. I think this is because it has become such an ordeal: install the OS, set up the OS, update the OS, download drivers, install drivers, install software, update software, transfer files, and so on.
That said, I really didn’t mind setting up Ubuntu: I installed it and it comes with almost all the software I need ready to go. Plus, it has a unified system for downloading and installing updates, drivers and software. Windows really needs to have that level of ease.
My main PC is still running XP. It works fairly well and Vista never offered me any reason to upgrade (or downgrade) to it. Windows 7 doesn’t seem very compelling; but I suppose that when Microsoft abandons XP I will have to switch. After all, the thought of running a Microsoft OS that is not supported with constant security updates and patches is terrifying. Of course, by then I’ll probably buy a new PC and have to just deal with Windows 8.