After nearly a year-long build-up, Microsoft’s ongoing pre-launch campaign to woo computer users has come to a close, with the public launch of Microsoft’s latest and greatest desktop OS, Windows 7.

Windows 7 is being born in to a world of uncertainty, one Microsoft has never faced before to such a degree. Apple’s (and Mac OS X) market share is the highest it’s been in over a decade. Linux has finally gained however small a foothold in home computers through netbooks. And what was Microsoft’s next-gen operating system, Windows Vista, has taken enough backlash that it’s going to be in therapy for the rest of its life.

By no means are these troubled times for Microsoft, but never has victory been less assured.

Unfortunately, Windows Vista started life as a technical misfit, something even we didn’t fully comprehend until later. It ate too much virtual address space, it copied files slowly, and it ran poorly on the lowest of the low-end computers of the time. Microsoft fixed many of these problems by the time SP1 hit, but by then it was too late. Vista went from a technical misfit to a social misfit, with no hope of immediate redemption.

So Windows 7 is being launched with some gargantuan tasks on its shoulders, few of them technical. First and foremost, it needs to reverse Vista’s (and by extension, Microsoft’s) bad image among existing Windows users, in order to get them off of the old and insecure Windows XP. Then it needs to help stem the continuing flow of Windows users to Mac OS X, which has continued to grow over the years. And finally, it still needs to innovate enough so that Windows doesn’t end up stagnant, and ideally sell a few copies to Vista users while it’s at it.

It’s a large order, one that as we’ll see Microsoft won’t completely deliver on, but they’re going to get fairly close to.

In the meantime, we’re left a launch that has been a very long time coming. Between the public beta, the public RC, and Win7 having been finalized 3 months ago, virtually anyone that wanted Win7 has had the opportunity to try it. Anyone could get the release version by the middle of August through TechNet, MSDN, Action Pack, or any other of a number of sources that Microsoft released Win7 to well ahead of the public launch. The real launch was 3 months ago, so the public launch is almost a technicality.

And with that said, let’s get started with our final look at Windows 7.

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  • solipsism - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    Nice review!

    Anand Effect
    — For every mention of Apple and their products the number of people who complain in the comments about Apple, their products and AnandTech’s occasional focus on said products doubles exponentially.
  • Taft12 - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    Not a bad theory, but the "doubles exponentially" part needs some peer review from mathematicians in the crowd (when they stop laughing) Reply
  • Toadster - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    I was very impressed with my upgrade - 65 minutes from start to end!

  • Spivonious - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    Not bad, but clean install took under 25 minutes on my E6600 machine. Reply
  • Griswold - Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - link

    The magic word is migration. A clean install with nothing else is certainly fast. The installation didnt even take 25 minutes here. The hours to make everything the way I needed it to be afterwards without upgrading from vista, thats what counts. :) Reply
  • mcnabney - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    4.5 hours for an upgrade on a fast hard disk that held ~300GB of apps and data.
    Butchered the drivers. Made a complete mess of the codecs. I would recomend the clean install since you will likely spend less time re-installing Apps than repairing the damage.
  • 9nails - Saturday, November 7, 2009 - link

    I wanted to upgrade from Vista 64-Bit Ultimate to Win 7 Ultimate, but it turns out that MS was handing out 32-bit versions. So no upgrade path from 64 to 32 bit. I did a clean install instead.

    So far, my only complaint is about the provided wall paper selection. I couldn't find anything that I truly liked. Other than that, Windows 7 is awesome! Solid, fast, and full of good stuff.
  • bearnet2001 - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    Well I'm still on XP 64, not sure if I'll upgrade. Next build I suppose, but I'm not paying out $200 or so just to upgrade a comp with an already fine OS. Reply
  • IdBuRnS - Saturday, October 31, 2009 - link

    Why do you need a $200 version? don't. Reply
  • just4U - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    I just don't understand why holdouts on XP like to argue how good it is in comparison to Vista... which it obviously is NOT. It seems they fail to realize that ALL OF US used it for a very long time (as operating systems go) So it's not like we don't have some basis of comparison to go on here.

    That being said, people upgrade when they either have to or want to. I am fine with that. If your still finding XP useful then shoot who am I to argue.

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