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Living With Windows 7: Better, But Still Vista

I've spent the last few months relying on Windows 7 as my primary computing platform for my home office. Like many former Vista users, I'm happy I made the transition. But Windows XP diehards may be harder to convince.
I've spent the last few months relying on Windows 7 as my primary computing platform for my home office. Like many former Vista users, I'm happy I made the transition. But Windows XP diehards may be harder to convince.As I lay out in depth in my latest column on bMighty.com, even the beta version of Windows 7 is a vast improvement over Windows Vista. But make no mistake, Windows 7 is a lot closer to Vista than it is to XP.

Don't Miss The Whole Story: Living With Windows 7 on bMighty.com

Windows 7 fixes many of the explicit -- and heavily reported -- flaws of Vista. In my experience, the new OS is much faster and less annoying than Vista. The performance differences meant that I could actually use the slick Aero interface that Vista promised but I had to turn off due to sluggish operation. So in some sense, Windows 7 is actually delivering on the promise of Vista.

Windows 7 looks great, and using it is mostly a pleasure. It offers greatly expanded control over many elements of the computing experience, at the cost of a nagging sense that there's always some really useful control panel or adjustment just out of reach that you haven't mastered yet.

And that's the key conclusion from my long-term road test. Apart from the differences in interface, security, and so on, Windows Vista/7 just feels different than XP. The pastel-hued, translucent OSes present themselves as silky smooth -- even kind of seductive. They're more complex, with more features, and they display a much deeper understanding of the files you're working with.

The plainer XP, on the other hand, still feels crisper, more precise. You have to make more decisions about what you want to do, but you somehow feel a bit more in control. XP seems less likely to anticipate what you want, but also less likely to mis-anticipate your intentions.

Bottom line? The fact that upgrading to Windows 7 will be much easier from Vista than from XP means that I'm only slightly updating my earlier recommendations on Windows choices.

Even with Windows 7's improvements, I still don't see many compelling reasons to upgrade existing machines from XP. That said, there's no reason to be afraid of using Windows 7 on new machines. For Vista machines, though, the upgrade to Windows 7 is an absolute no-brainer. And if Microsoft has any sense, it will make that process as easy and inexpensive as possible.