Windows 7: Release Candidate 1

When we wrote our Windows Vista Performance Guide, we were left wondering about Microsoft’s ability to sell Vista to a community of users well entrenched with Windows XP

Among those that won't become switchers, Microsoft's own worst enemy is itself, as it needs to prove that Vista is a worthwhile upgrade to XP when XP is already so refined. For many users in the consumer space, Vista is simply a version of Windows where (to borrow a quote from Field of Dreams) "If you build it, they will come." These people will get Vista on their new computers and they'll like it because it is good, but having never had the chance to decide if they didn't want it.

Now two and a quarter years later we can see the outcome of that. It’s not favorable to Microsoft.

While Vista’s adoption has not been a failure, it hasn’t necessarily been a success story either. Microsoft’s own worst enemy was XP, and the users complacent with it have been in no big rush to upgrade. The primary vehicle for moving Vista has been new computers, and even that has taken a hit in the kneecaps with the sudden rise of netbooks, which fit poorly with an OS that was made for newer, faster computers.

Further complicating matters is that the quality of Vista wasn’t particularly stellar at launch. We’ve already covered this with our Vista SP1 article, so we won’t completely rehash this, but specific performance problems such as file copies (local and networked) and Vista’s hunger for virtual address space quickly made themselves evident. Netbooks drove this point home even harder –Vista doesn’t do so well with so little RAM.

Finally, Apple deserves a great deal of credit here for driving the stake into the public opinion of Vista. The extremely popular Get a Mac campaign took the dissent from above and managed to amplify it and sew it into the public at large. Apple made it popular to hate Vista, and Microsoft did too little too late on the marketing front to counter that. Never underestimate the power of marketing – many people can tell you they don’t like Vista, few can tell you why. That’s marketing.

Even though many of the technical problems were fixed before or at the launch of Vista SP1, by then it was too late. The public had become permanently dissatisfied with Vista. Regardless of the quality of the OS these days, the Vista name has become poisonous.

Of course as far as consumer sales are concerned, this hasn’t significantly dented Vista adoption. Vista’s still going out on virtually every new consumer-level computer shipped. People may be dissatisfied, but so far they’re not doing anything about it other than complaining. Business users on the other hand are acting, or rather are not acting. They’re not upgrading to Vista on existing computers, and on new computers they’re still installing XP. Vista’s not taking at the corporate level, and that’s Microsoft’s more immediate problem.

So here we are today with Windows 7 Release Candidate 1, Microsoft's grand attempt at taking Vista and building a more palatable operating system out of it. With Windows 7, Microsoft has ripped the Vista playbook to shreds and they are going an entirely different route. The goal: make Windows 7 successful before it even ships.

Windows 7: A New Marketing Approach
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  • Jman13 - Friday, May 08, 2009 - link

    I installed the x64 version of RC1 last night. Painless install, and VERY fast. Much faster than my XP install. I'm talking about actual usage of the computer, not the install (though that was fast too). I skipped Vista, but Win7 really looks to be a very good OS. Some of the usability features in Win7 are really nice (half screen docking to the side, for instance. I'm now using RC1 as my main OS, and likely will stay that way until the actual release, where I will finally upgrade from XP.

    I'm very pleased.
    Reply
  • Jackattak - Friday, May 08, 2009 - link

    Mine also went completely as planned last night. I loaded it onto my Dell XPS420 on a spare 160GB HD I had in there.

    Painless, flawless, and runs like a dream (as does Vista, so that was to be expected).

    Loaded the 185 drivers from nVidia for my 8800GT 512MB, installed Left 4 Dead (and Steam), and played for an hour without any issues at all.

    Lovin' the new UI. Hopefully it gets even cooler when the retail release comes out, but I doubt they'll make any drastic changes by then as there would be lots of RC users taken aback.

    Great work so far, M$. Keep it up.

    ~Jackattak
    Reply
  • Grandpa - Friday, May 08, 2009 - link

    I absolutely hate the menu in Win 7. 3 to 4 clicks to open a program that would only take 1 click in XP or Vista. Also, in Control Panel, there is no option for the Classic look there. I don't see any performance boost over Vista whatsoever. There just isn't a good reason to pay good money for this. Linux is a much better value. Reply
  • Jman13 - Friday, May 08, 2009 - link

    There's an option for the classic look. Just change the view to large or small icons in the upper right corner. Reply
  • Grandpa - Monday, May 11, 2009 - link

    It isn't just the look. When you hover over the folder you want to open, it doesn't open unless you click ( even though the option for that to happen is checked ).

    PS: I have used Linux. It's just a little difficult to play the games I like playing with it.
    Reply
  • B3an - Friday, May 08, 2009 - link

    Oh look a linux fanboy bashing Win7. Like your've even fucking tried it. Reply
  • HellcatM - Thursday, May 07, 2009 - link

    I thought Vista was ok, I liked the start menu and it just bets better with Windows 7. I find things just as easy as well, if not easier because I can just type in the search.

    I think setting up a network, wireless and a printer is much easier too. I haven't tested home network because I don't have two computers computers to test it on. I like the idea though.

    The UI I like, the launch bar is good. I'm just wondering if Microsoft is going to do a UI change for the gold release. My thought is they know that since they did an open beta they way they did where anyone can use it, that people at Apple are going to be looking at it really closely and they'll make changes to Mac OS. With a UI change it'll give a curveball to Apple. Maybe MS has a major jaw dropping UI change. I just don't think their going to take a chance that Apple is going to test Win 7 and not make changes to their own. I know if I were Apple I would.

    I think Windows 7 is ready now. Its a strong OS and I haven't had any major problems. Its quick, has some nice features, and it looks nice.
    Reply
  • Jackattak - Thursday, May 07, 2009 - link

    Loved it. I have downloaded both the x64 and x86 versions and will be installing them tonight.

    My one comment on OS brands (I use all of them for one thing or another at work and at home):

    When Apple has a serious market share in the personal computing world and can truly develop an operating system for use on hardware from thousands (millions?) of different manufacturers, THEN (and only then) Microsoft will have a problem. Until then, Microsoft will continue to rule the planet, complainers and whiners be damned.

    Apple has no serious market share in the home or business.
    Linux is for computer professionals and tinkerers.
    Microsoft is for the other 97% of the world.

    :D

    ~Jackattak
    Reply
  • DrRap - Thursday, May 07, 2009 - link

    windows has left the building guys
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVM32aEABGY&fea...">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVM32aEABGY&fea...
    Reply
  • Techno Pride - Thursday, May 07, 2009 - link

    I don't get it. It's just an OS, a tool. Does it really matter what brand of hammer you use?

    Shouldn't it matter more whether any tangible results are produced using whatever tools are available?
    Reply

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