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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  • ssj4Gogeta - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    Exactly what SkullOne said. I also use Linux and know in what areas it's better than Windows. But I also know there are so many other areas in which it's a pain to use. Reply
  • SkullOne - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    Spoken like a true jaded Linux fanboi. People like you are the reason Linux will never be mainstream. You think you're so high and mighty (or more secure) when you're not.

    Thanks for the laugh. I'd love for you to back up ANY of your comments with facts.

    Disclaimer: I use Linux and Windows every day in production environments. They both have their place in the world.
  • snookie - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    This blaming of Microsoft's Vista woes on Apple and a few commercials is just ridiculous. Most people pay no attention to such things those few that see them. It also has nothing to do with why Vista was a flop in the consumer space and an even bigger flop in the corporate marketplace. Certainly nothing to do with so many companies offering XP downgrades. Vista is a lousy product plain and simple and if there is any marketing fault it is Windows with their arcane multiple editions at ever increasing prices designed to milk customers. People aren't stupid even if they are computer novices. They know when they have been had, something is difficult to use, or not reliable. This is the result of years of piling layer upon layer of code on an ever expanding code base with no effort to start over and offer a clean efficient OS. The ONLY thing Windows 7 has over Vista is the interface is simplified and gets out of your way better. It can SEEM to run faster all it wants but test after test shows Windows 7 is barely faster than Vista at many tasks and in fact slower at some. Microsoft is in real trouble here because years of cruft code have left a huge amount of unusable code that consumes resources, adds instability, and provides entry to all sorts of malware. There is no way this codebase can be made to work efficiently with the quad and higher core procs that will be even more common in the next few years and what is Microsoft going to do then? They have three failed ad campaigns under their belt so their years of lying to their customers has fallen flat and corporate customers long ago stopped believing anything Microsoft said which is why open source that doesn't lock you in is becoming more and more prevalent. Microsoft has met the enemy and it is them.

    I notice you run Microsoft ads btw.
  • ssj4Gogeta - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    I know so many people who haven't even TRIED Vista once and they keep telling other people how bad it is. Reply
  • formulav8 - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    I agree almost 100%. I have customers who wants to make sure they have/get windows xp because vista is so bad. If you ask them why, they basically say its because a friend of a friends father said it was slow.

    I do know one of the biggest downfalls for Microsoft and Vista was allowing Intel to pressure them into getting Vista Certified compatability with those trashy integrated chipsets of Intel. So many users have those trash Intel xtreme/gma video chipsets and they had very bad Aero interface performance.

    Anyways, I use both Vista and Windows7 daily. I like Vista better than XP overall and like Windows7 thus far compared to Vista.

    I really think Windows7 will end up being one of the best oses made, even when compared to osx and windows xp.

  • vectorm12 - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    Personally I never took to windows XP nor vista(had it been tecnologically possible I would still have been on WinNT 4.0), however as I bought a new PC I hit the RAM cap of 32bit XP Pro and therefore felt I had no decent choice than to move to 64bit Vista.

    My Vista experience has been far from great, reinstalls, crap drivers from nVidia and ATI not to mention a bunch of other third parties. However it hasn't been all bad, vista has quite a few ideas that just didn't work out just the way I would have liked.

    Look at the save file dialogs for example where you actually had to click a button to browse directories other than the default one.

    I've now been running on Win7 x64 since build 7k reinstalling almost every time a new version has been leaked and I'd say most of the things that bugged me with Vista has been corrected.

    At this point the only thing I still want for Win7 is the "old" style control panel and an integration of the "administrator tools" into the control panel.

    Looking at the big picture I say Win7 (even in BETA) is the best modern OS Microsoft has produced. The performance issues of Vista have been dealt with to a large degree. Drivers seem to work better and the most annoying GUI issues have been dealt with.

    All Microsoft can do now to make me feel completely satisfied with my computing experience over the last few years is give me a BIG rebate on the upgrade to Windows7 from my old Vista licence.
  • johnsonx - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    I just upgraded my XP-era Vista box (2.2ghz single core A64, 2GB RAM, VIA AGP mobo, X1950Pro) to Windows 7 tonight, and it was absolutely painless. It certainly seems faster than Vista, in particular I notice that my e-mail client and web browser launch and become ready much more quickly.

    I'm finding the new UI features to be actually useful as well, rather than Vista's pointless eye candy. I often have 6 or 7 browser tabs and several e-mail windows open, along with another couple of apps, and the new task bar makes it much easier to switch among them. I can see if I have any new e-mail just by moving the mouse over the client icon on the taskbar, no need to even click on it. Aero-Peek makes gadgets more usable too, since you can see them without minimizing every window. AeroSnap is great too. Only AeroShake defies explanation, but perhaps time will prove that one too.

    I was never a Vista hater, though it certainly had it's frustrations. But it only took me 20 minutes with Windows 7 to never want to touch another Vista box again.

    I was initially concerned that ATI's Windows 7 driver only supports cards back to the HD2000 series (presumably because the WDDM 1.1 driver model requires DX10 class hardware, which my X1950Pro is not), but the MS provided driver had no problems with Half-Life 2 (the only game I happen to have installed on this box) or any of the fancy GUI features.

    The only weirdness so far as that at last boot up Windows told me a driver for Trend Micro Internet Security was being blocked due to a compatibility problem with Windows 7. That's understandable, except for the fact that I don't have any Trend Micro product installed, nor has one ever been installed in the past. It wouldn't tell me exactly what driver it was complaining about though, so I can't investigate further (I suspect some log somewhere will tell me exactly what driver it blocked).

    One taskbar UI incontinuity: so much now works by simply moving the mouse over the various items, it suddenly seems odd to have to actually click on the start menu to get it to open.
  • johnsonx - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    ok, it turns out the offending driver was TMCOMM.SYS, and it really was from Trend Micro. I have a vague recollection of running an online scan once a couple years ago (trying to scan a friend's external drive), so I guess it was trend micro and it left that driver around.
    As with most such things, the blocking event was neatly logged in the system event log.
  • thebeastie - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    Wow, this new OS looks like Vista but with all the latest patches,IE8 and DirectX11. Then just a few cosmetic graphics changes.
    Come on what else did you expect? Maybe its something that has stuck deep in side people since they were kids around new PCs but when it comes to Microsoft new OSes people are just getting more and more nieve.

  • thebeastie - Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - link

    More tests appear to be slower in Windows 7 then Vista etc.
    Things like reltek sound performance can be put to just as much to the 3rd party drivers then anything else.

    I can't believe how many people I have talked to that use but hate Vista and expect Windows server to be light on its feet as XP but with the features of Vista, they are behaving as its something they could bet their life on.
    What does it take for people to get some some technical intuition?
    I mean thats what people really really really need here.

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