Windows 7: Release Candidate 1

When we wrote our Windows Vista Performance Guide, we were left wondering about Microsoft’s ability to sell Vista to a community of users well entrenched with Windows XP

Among those that won't become switchers, Microsoft's own worst enemy is itself, as it needs to prove that Vista is a worthwhile upgrade to XP when XP is already so refined. For many users in the consumer space, Vista is simply a version of Windows where (to borrow a quote from Field of Dreams) "If you build it, they will come." These people will get Vista on their new computers and they'll like it because it is good, but having never had the chance to decide if they didn't want it.

Now two and a quarter years later we can see the outcome of that. It’s not favorable to Microsoft.

While Vista’s adoption has not been a failure, it hasn’t necessarily been a success story either. Microsoft’s own worst enemy was XP, and the users complacent with it have been in no big rush to upgrade. The primary vehicle for moving Vista has been new computers, and even that has taken a hit in the kneecaps with the sudden rise of netbooks, which fit poorly with an OS that was made for newer, faster computers.

Further complicating matters is that the quality of Vista wasn’t particularly stellar at launch. We’ve already covered this with our Vista SP1 article, so we won’t completely rehash this, but specific performance problems such as file copies (local and networked) and Vista’s hunger for virtual address space quickly made themselves evident. Netbooks drove this point home even harder –Vista doesn’t do so well with so little RAM.

Finally, Apple deserves a great deal of credit here for driving the stake into the public opinion of Vista. The extremely popular Get a Mac campaign took the dissent from above and managed to amplify it and sew it into the public at large. Apple made it popular to hate Vista, and Microsoft did too little too late on the marketing front to counter that. Never underestimate the power of marketing – many people can tell you they don’t like Vista, few can tell you why. That’s marketing.

Even though many of the technical problems were fixed before or at the launch of Vista SP1, by then it was too late. The public had become permanently dissatisfied with Vista. Regardless of the quality of the OS these days, the Vista name has become poisonous.

Of course as far as consumer sales are concerned, this hasn’t significantly dented Vista adoption. Vista’s still going out on virtually every new consumer-level computer shipped. People may be dissatisfied, but so far they’re not doing anything about it other than complaining. Business users on the other hand are acting, or rather are not acting. They’re not upgrading to Vista on existing computers, and on new computers they’re still installing XP. Vista’s not taking at the corporate level, and that’s Microsoft’s more immediate problem.

So here we are today with Windows 7 Release Candidate 1, Microsoft's grand attempt at taking Vista and building a more palatable operating system out of it. With Windows 7, Microsoft has ripped the Vista playbook to shreds and they are going an entirely different route. The goal: make Windows 7 successful before it even ships.

Windows 7: A New Marketing Approach
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  • Gary Key - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    We have an additional article coming with ATI vs NV, IGP, netbook, and we will delve into storage and networking with a Promise NAS server. I just received Win7 specific network drivers so I will complete the multi-task testing shortly. Reply
  • Natfly - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    Thank god for the media center improvements. ClearQAM support FINALLY, after hearing almost nothing for years. Better codec support is also extremely welcome. Reply
  • flipmode - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    While Vista’s adoption has not been a failure, it hasn’t necessarily been a success story either.


    What? Can you please explain to me how you define "failure" as it pertains to Microsoft's OS? Doesn't it have about 5% penetration in business? You don't call that failure? You can't define the term based on consumer products - consumers who buy off the shelf PCs have no choice in the matter.
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, May 07, 2009 - link

    For what it's worth, my definition of failure would be "Businesses won't take it, and the consumers situation is so bad that the majority of OEMs are still shipping XP as the default desktop OS".

    Vista didn't go well for Microsoft, but the fact that the vast majority of computers being sold are using Vista and the guys in our forums are using Vista near-exclusively is proof to me that it clearly wasn't a failure. A late bloomer perhaps, or maybe a lame duck.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    Businesses can be extremely slow to change, with some still using Win2k. I doubt XP had that much market penetration in business after ~2 years either. If MS left Vista around as the newest OS for several years it would probably have more, as XP does now. I'd say the larger failure is that consumers were making buying decisions on computers based on which one they could get with XP.

    I'd guess the automatic window resizing can probably be disabled (I like my windows the size I set them, thank you very much) but how about adding text labels back onto the taskbar icons and not merging them together? If I have multiple Firefox windows open, there is probably a reason for it and I don't want to keep having them merged.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    Also, with this pinned icon being the taskbar icon thing, how do I launch a new window of whatever program that is? Firefox again, for example, will clicking it allow me to launch a new window? Or would I have to maximize a current window and then use the menu to launch a new window? Reply
  • JonnyBlaze - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    left click and drag up or shift click Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    The task bar can be set to several options. The default is "Always combine, hide labels". The second option is "Combine when taskbar is full" - that's the one I like, and you get text labels up to the point where the windows merge. The final option is "Never combine", which gives text labels and behaves in a WinXP manner. Reply
  • Earballs - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    Anyone get a display driver to install on a HD 4770 under W7 RC? Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    9.5 in a couple of weeks.. could not get the 8.612 from yesterday to work right, it would load through the manual process, but performance was way off compared to Vista 64. Reply

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