As 2010 approaches, Windows 7 seems to be experiencing a successful launch and warm reception from both businesses and consumers. I've just switched over to Windows 7 for my day-to-day desktop, and definitely think it's an improvement over both XP and Vista. That's fortunate, because I suspect we'll all be using Windows 7 for most of the next decade.We all have better things to do than install and learn new versions of Windows, so the new version needs to be a lot better to justify the effort. Microsoft learned that the hard way when they shipped Vista. Even though it had been a long five years since XP shipped, most users and companies didn't see a lot of benefit in switching. That, combined with the not-ready-for-prime-time state of Vista, meant that XP is still the dominant version of Windows after eight years.
Microsoft's model for delivering operating systems is one of the reasons Windows 7 will have a long life. Many of the faults of that model were pointed out in this 2005 blog post by former Microsoftie Marc Lucovsky. At the moment, new Windows features can only be delivered in carefully crafted packages of bits, built over several years. Only those bit packages get the honor of a shiny new marketing name.
Considering the flaws of Microsoft's software delivery process, XP held up remarkably well. It also proved that today's Windows users don't feel that they need to upgrade their operating system every few years. If we could live for eight years with XP, it's likely we can make it for ten with Windows 7. Microsoft needs to find ways to live with that, or change the way that it updates and renovates Windows.