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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  • jkostans - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    I bought W7 Pro 64-bit OEM for $140 shipped on newegg. So far I am reasonably happy. The interface takes a lot of getting used to for someone who has been running XP since it's release. I do get some blue screens, but I've narrowed it down to an iffy 64-bit "kX Audio" driver I am using for my ancient SB Audigy.

    I definately noticed a speed improvement in general use. Everything from navigating folders to opening programs and browsing the internet seems snappier. I am running a decent setup, so maybe W7 can scale better with the additional power of todays machines. (Q6600 @ 3.4GHz, 4GB DDR2 1066 , HD4870, Spinpoint F1 7200rpm drives). I really want to see how a SSD helps performance, but I can't justify the price yet.
  • chrnochime - Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - link

    I'd say if it does scale well, your PC is provides a lot of power for it to work on. It's a quad-core OC'd to 3.4GHz, and that's far from being a slouch.

    Now to ponder over whether to wipe my HTPC clean just to install W7. No, I don't hope for smooth upgrade, never worked in the past for any Windows before, don't think it'll work for me now.
  • hydrocarbon - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    "Fine" is a weird term to use for 64-bit XP...
  • SunLord - Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - link

    I always wonder about these Windows XP 64bit users seeing as how it has the worst driver support out of all recent Windows version. It also was the last to get WGA support... Funny that.
  • Genx87 - Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - link

    People enjoy pain or like to be "different". The driver situation for that OS is hell and isnt going to get better.
  • falc0ne - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    well, dear Xp user we have a short and straight to the point answer for ya: welcome to the 21st century:)
    it's not that we don't love old machines like Pontiac Firebird but....this doesn't apply to computer hardware or software:)
  • Martimus - Tuesday, October 27, 2009 - link

    Lol. That isn't an argument. In fact, I don't even know what you are trying to convey. That Windows 7 is newer, and thus automatically better? That isn't a very logical conclusion.

    Widows XP runs most programs fine. Why would anyone want to buy a new operating system, when their old one they already paid for works? I'll buy Windows 7 when I build a new computer, but there is no compelling reason to buy it for any other reason. After reading this article, I feel less compelled to change my operating system than I did before I read it - as there just aren't any compelling features added since XP (to me).
  • B3an - Monday, November 2, 2009 - link

    XP it a decade old, it REALLY should just hurry up and die. It's holding progress back, too many installs still use IE6 which is a massive headache for web developers, and it has more holes than my socks. 7 is massive upgrade from XP, even installing 7 is infinitely easier than XP. This article fails to mention many many features of windows 7, but then it's more about performance numbers.

    Yes XP "gets the job done", so would windows 98 for many people, but stop confusing that with the OS actually being any good these days.
    7 is Microsofts best OS by far, period.
  • leexgx - Tuesday, November 3, 2009 - link

    i guess you did not even bother to read his post....

    i am guessing he has his PC fully up to date
  • samspqr - Monday, October 26, 2009 - link

    it depends on what you are doing

    I don't doubt this site does its best to get the most perfect measures of general performance, but my measuremens tell a totally different story

    if you're doing serious 3D work, using programs like 3dsmax or maya, XP is between 21% and 200% faster than vista or w7:">">

    note 1: this is viewport performance; for rendering times, look at anandtech's numbers
    note 2: don't even look at specviewperf results, they are meaningless

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