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


View All Comments

  • strikeback03 - Thursday, May 07, 2009 - link

    In some things I can understand moving stuff, but there are also some that were moved for no good reason. For example, in XP to get display properties, you right click the desktop and click properties. In Vista there is at least one additional page to click through to get that. Ultimately, it seems to me that MS tries too hard to hide the settings, likely to protect the users who don't know what they are doing, but a pain for the users who do. For the record, I had the same complaint about XP coming from win2000, that whenever you hop on a system that wasn't set to all the classic settings, it is a pain to get around. Reply
  • Jackattak - Thursday, May 07, 2009 - link

    But Strikeback you're talking about probably 10% of the users (power users). The majority of Windows users don't give a crap about modification, and that's who they're "protecting" based on your explanation.

    If you were running Microsoft, wouldn't you find it a small issue that you were "inconveniencing" 10% of your user base by making them go "one page deeper" in order to "protect" 90% of your users?
  • strikeback03 - Friday, May 08, 2009 - link

    Then do like the GPU companies do and have both simple and advanced versions of the interface. Allow them to change one setting to show or hide all the "advanced" stuff across the OS. And put it somewhere easy to find, like the start menu. Reply
  • mathew7 - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    I'm also a XP-lover. Even in XP I'm using it with classic view (2K view).
    My main problem is removal of old start-menu (cascading menus). I really hate the Vista style-menu.
    Also, I prefer UAC disabled and using run-as different user. Unfortunately (in Beta), explorer would not take the new permissions (launch in separate process was enabled for both users), which means configurations had to be done with admin logon. I have not tried this yet in RC. Also, once UAC was disabled, the UAC menu items (with the shield) were still present with no actions (again I don't know about RC).

    On the other hand, the new taskbar (with previews) and the multimedia settings are good-enough reason for me to switch.
  • ssj4Gogeta - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    Start menu is one of the best features that were introduced in Vista. It's great on a netbook or a small monitor. You also don't need to move your mouse, just type in the first few letters of the app name. It also searches your documents for you.

    And about that RAM issue, what did you expect? I'm surprised it even runs on 512MB. Even netbooks have at least a gig of RAM.
  • SirKronan - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    I like the revamped start menu as well. Love instant search!

    But did they add Blu-ray support to Media Center? This has been one of my complaints from the beginning about Media Center. It has to launch a separate program to play Blu-rays & HD DVD's, and I haven't found any way around it short of ripping the movies to a hard disk. I realize there are anti-trust/competitive laws, and I honestly don't mind having to buy PowerDVD or WinDVD to get their decoder, but I want the movie to play back in MEDIA CENTER with all of the interface's great features, like the smooth playback and intuitive controls, guide information, zoom feature (get rid of black letterbox - with 1080p you certainly have enough resolution to scale a tad!), etc.

    Have they added that yet? If not, PLEASE, Anand, ask them to for us!
  • KingViper - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    Archsoft and the newest version of PowerDVD both have plugins for Media Center..from what I hear. Although Media Center itself isn't actually playing the looks like it integrates well. You might try out the trial versions. Reply
  • chrnochime - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    Just because netbooks have more ram(and not every one of them has 1G, some has 512MB), doesn't mean the OS should try to gobble up as much as is available. I don't get why every iteration of their OS just keep getting bigger and bigger, with little discernible improvements to the average user.

    and this? "Ultimately, with Microsoft throwing Windows 7 RC1 out to the masses, we can't think of a good reason not to try it."

    Unless they have ways to export the settings in programs and whatever document users have when they were using W7, it'd be really hard to convince the average user to try out just for sake of novelty.
  • KingViper - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    "I don't get why every iteration of their OS just keep getting bigger and bigger, with little discernible improvements to the average user. "

    Many things an OS is responsible for is not necessarily obvious to the average user. Compatibility with almost all hardware available, including keeping the OS as secure as possible. DX10\DX11 and h264 codecs etc. etc. etc. TONS of stuff is added, but it isn't necessarily used everyday. Of course it's going to get bigger.

    I don't understand how XP users are about as bitter with Microsoft as Mac users are. Can you just not afford a Mac or what?
  • mathew7 - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    I also would like to say about W7RC and low-RAM:
    Windows 7 on 512MB RAM (desktop Intel G45 MB w/laptop HDD) feels to me like XP din on a 64MB RAM laptop years ago. It's good for internet/light work, but even for that you need patience because of swapping.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now