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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  • DominionSeraph - 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"

    Because they tried to cram Vista on to a PIII with 256MB of ram, and they're too young to have known REAL speed: Windows 98SE.
    Reply
  • chrnochime - Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - link

    Yes but with that REAL speed came frequent BSODs for me. I stuck with 98SE until end of 2002(!) and after moving over to xp, no more BSOD. Exact same hardwares too. Reply
  • ProDigit - Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - link

    What are you saying?

    Vista runs slacky on just about any laptop with specs lower than Core2Duo T5500, or Core2Duo's with lower than 1MB L cache, and a drive slower than 5200rpm.

    Even on an AMD dualcore 2,4Ghz with 4GB of RAM, I noticed the OS being sluggish!
    It performs worse than MacOs, XP, Linux, and Win7!
    It is possibly the worst OS ever created!
    Reply
  • Genx87 - Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - link

    I think just about any OS will slack when you stick it on a 4200 RPM drive. I am assuming you meant 4200 instead of 5200?

    I had Dell laptops back in 03-04 that performed like 386's because some bean counter figured we can save 20 bucks a laptop using 4200 rpm drives. Idiot didnt think about the wasted productivity when the user waits 10 minutes for the thing to boot and 2 mins to open outlook.

    Reply
  • DominionSeraph - Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - link

    XP ain't no sprite. When my Vista box went down, I ripped out its X2 5200+ to replace my backup XP box's 3200+, and with that huge leap it now equals what my Vista box was like.
    There really ain't a difference once you go dual-core with decent specs.

    Compare this to Win 98. Whereas XP dogs a 3200+ with 2GB, 98 has sub-10 second boot times on a PIII 700MHz, and you aren't gonna notice a difference in snappiness from a Celeron 400. (You don't get any faster than 'instant'.)

    XP is bloatware and really doesn't have a hardware niche. Anything that can't run Vista would be better off with Win98.

    Reply
  • poached - Wednesday, October 28, 2009 - link

    but you can't get drivers for windows 98. The installer will probably crash if you tried. plus, 98 was really unstable (compared to OSs of today) because programs could corrupt the memory easily. Not to mention no security of any kind. There is a penalty to make OS secure and stable. Reply
  • pullmyfoot - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    I bought Vista when it came out and dual booted it with XP. I didnt really like it, and Vista almost never got used. It was like that for a year and a half, and then I installed the W7 RC. I have not missed XP one bit.

    As for the people who say W7 is less snappy than XP, well in my own experience W7 feels more snappy than XP to me any day.
    Reply
  • ProDigit - Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - link

    I noticed the opposite when testing XP VS Win7 RC and Beta.
    I found XP to be more snappy than Win7, running it from a lower specced laptop.
    I did have XP optimized though. Perhaps if I give the final version of Win7 a Win2000 theme, and optimize it a bit, it will be as snappy as XP.
    Reply
  • ProDigit - Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - link

    I noticed the opposite when testing XP VS Win7 RC and Beta.
    I found XP to be more snappy than Win7, running it from a lower specced laptop.
    I did have XP optimized though. Perhaps if I give the final version of Win7 a Win2000 theme, and optimize it a bit, it will be as snappy as XP.
    Reply
  • andrewaggb - Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - link

    I'd be curious if you can get it to feel as fast as xp on a really slow laptop. I sold my netbook a year ago (1024x600 didn't cut it), but now that you can get ones with a better resolution screen I might consider getting another one with win7 if it doesn't run awful.

    Reply

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