Managing The Windows 7 Learning Curve

Michael Miller, author of "Microsoft Windows 7 Your Way" discusses the end user support issues that IT managers face with Windows 7, the potential productivity gains, and how the OS stacks up on security.

Don't Miss: Tweaking the Windows Registry, an excerpt of "Microsoft Windows 7 Your Way

InformationWeek SMB: Speaking of mixed environments, how does Windows 7 stack up in terms of playing well with other OS?

Miller: It plays a lot better than Vista did. That was one of the main beefs against Vista was that if you were using Vista with XP, you might not even be able to see the computer much less the computers on the network. That is a problem I actually experienced. Windows 7 appears to have fixed a lot of that. I don't whether it's perfect or not, but I don't know whether you can make that perfect.

InformationWeek SMB: Your book promises to give users easy "tweaks" that will make Windows run more smoothly. How much tweaking is required to get Windows 7 really humming beyond the personalization that each user might prefer?

Miller: It kind of depends on how far you wanna go. As with anything, there's a lot of basic stuff you can do just in terms of the interface, but beyond that there are a lot of administrator-type utilities that might not be readily accessible to an average user from msconfig all the way to tweaking the registry. So it really is a matter of how deep you want to go. For the average-end user, you don't have to do a lot of tweaking, but for the guy who's really into interested in getting that last 1% there's a lot under the hood.

InformationWeek SMB: One of the bugaboos of Vista has been security and the rap on Vista was that is caused as many problems as it prevented. What's the state of the security for Windows 7.

Miller: This is issue where Microsoft is damned if they do and damned if they don't. In Windows Vista they added the user account control (UAC) to try and keep malware from getting installed and taking control. But that manifested for a lot of users in these darned pop up boxes saying 'do you really want to do this? Do you really want to delete this file? Do you really want to make this change? Do you really, really, really, really, you're really sure you want to do this? It was well intentioned. The idea was to make users think about what they were doing and make sure they didn't do stuff that would be harmful, but there were so many that users just ignored them and they became background noise - you either turned off UAC or just clicked yes to everything so it actually had the opposite effect of the intent. Microsoft learned from that and they dialed back the intrusiveness of the user account control in Windows 7. A lot more happens in the background. It probably cut the number of prompts by 80%. Did that actually reduce the security of the system? Maybe a little, but you've got to look at usability. If you're prompted to approve or disapprove every little click, it becomes useless.

InformationWeek SMB: With the explosion of netbooks, most of them running XP, what's the potential for Windows 7 with netbooks?

Miller: It's certainly much more netbook friendly than Vista; Vista was horrible on netbooks. 7 is gonna run more like XP; it might be a little bit more demanding but not much more demanding. I think we're gonna start seeing some netbooks come with 7 on them, but, of course, we've got other interesting things happening in netbooks with the Google Chrome OS [the focus of Miller's upcoming book] which I think is gonna be a big thing when they ship some netbooks with it later this year.

Benjamin Tomkins is editor of InformationWeek SMB.
Follow him on Twitter @

Don't Miss:

Follow InformationWeek SMB on Twitter @
Get InformationWeek SMB on your mobile device @

Editor's Choice
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Shane Snider, Senior Writer, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author