While I did attend a very nice Windows 7 launch party, I’m still running XP on my main PC and OS X on my iBook (with Windows 2000 running nicely in emulation). I do have Vista on a laptop, but only because it came with Vista and I could never quit muster up the gumption for a downgrade to XP. Interestingly, though I have used it the least of any computer I own, it has thrown up the most blue screens of death. But, to get back to Windows 7.
My desktop PC (a repair job based on the burned out shell of a friend’s “one fan short” computer) is running XP Pro quite nicely. While I am more of a Mac person, I find XP Pro with Service Pack 3 to be fairly stable and good with resources (of course, it was released almost a decade ago). Most importantly, it does everything that I need an OS to do-that is, it allows me to run the software I use without too much trouble. When Vista was spawned to torment the world, I passed because I saw no compelling reason to “upgrade” to a annoying resource hog. I do not regret that at all.
When Windows 7 was announced, I knew that I would probably have to use it eventually-after all, my PC is reaching the end of its expected life. However, I also knew that I would not be shelling out money for an upgrade. Rather, I figured I would just buy a new PC after Microsoft got around to beating some of the worst bugs out of Windows 7.
Based on my limited experience and research on Windows 7, it seems to be roughly a service pack of Vista. That is, it is basically Vista that works a bit better: it is less annoying, a bit faster, and hogs slightly less resources. However, there seems to be nothing compelling about it-beyond the fact that Microsoft has discontinued XP and soon it will be the only real Windows game in town.
While Windows 7 has some nifty interface features, I can honestly do without them or, if I must have them, I can find some third party freeware to do the same thing. Of course, my view of an OS is to take it as a metaphor for a worktable-it is there to provide the foundation on which I work, not to be getting in my way with fancy features. I am, however, concerned with security and stability. Not surprisingly, I rather like Linux.
Like many people, I find Microsoft’s multiple versions of Windows to be annoying. I rather like Apple‘s approach: have one OS for consumers and a server OS. Don’t have numerous versions that seem to differ only in fairly minor ways (other than cost). Presumably Microsoft thinks that it can make more money with all these versions and perhaps this is correct. When I do buy a new PC, I’ll shop for the best hardware deal and then probably just deal with whatever version of Windows 7 is on there. I’d take a stab at sorting out all the different versions, but that should be something Microsoft makes clear. Fortunately, someone has taken the effort for me.
If you have an XP machine and are happy with it, then it makes sense to just stick with it until it dies. While it might be able to run Windows 7, it makes more sense to use the money for an upgrade and put it towards a new PC. After all, some new PCs are priced close to the cost of a full version Windows 7.
If you have a Vista machine, then you might be eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 7. If you bought your PC on or after July 1, 2009 then you are probably in luck. If you bought before then, then you will need to buy an upgrade. If you are a student, then you can get the upgrade for $29.99.
Of course, my view is that Microsoft should issue a free upgrade to all Vista users as an apology for that mess. At the very least, they should allow them that $30 deal.