October 08, 2009
Windows 7 - Review by Walt Mossberg
According to Mossberg Microsoft's New Operating System Is Good Enough to Erase Bad Memory of Vista.
A Windows to Help You Forget
In just two weeks, on Oct. 22, Microsoft's long operating-system nightmare will be over. The company will release Windows 7, a faster and much better operating system than the little-loved Windows Vista, which did a lot to harm both the company's reputation, and the productivity and blood pressure of its users. PC makers will rush to flood physical and online stores with new computers pre-loaded with Windows 7, and to offer the software to Vista owners who wish to upgrade.
With Windows 7, PC users will at last have a strong, modern successor to the sturdy and familiar, but aged, Windows XP, which is still the most popular version of Windows, despite having come out in 2001. In the high-tech world, an eight-year-old operating system is the equivalent of a 20-year-old car. While XP works well for many people, it is relatively weak in areas such as security, networking and other features more important today than when XP was designed around 1999.
After using pre-release versions of Windows 7 for nine months, and intensively testing the final version for the past month on many different machines, I believe it is the best version of Windows Microsoft has produced. It's a boost to productivity and a pleasure to use. Despite a few drawbacks, I can heartily recommend Windows 7 to mainstream consumers.
Like the new Snow Leopard operating system released in August by Microsoft's archrival, Apple, Windows 7 is much more of an evolutionary than a revolutionary product. Its main goal was to fix the flaws in Vista and to finally give Microsoft customers a reason to move up from XP. But Windows 7 is packed with features and tweaks that make using your computer an easier and more satisfying experience.
Windows 7 introduces real advances in organizing your programs and files, arranging your taskbar and desktop, and quickly viewing and launching the page or document you want, when you want it. It also has cool built-in touch-screen features.
It removes a lot of clutter. And it mostly banishes Vista's main flaws—sluggishness; incompatibility with third-party software and hardware; heavy hardware requirements; and constant, annoying security warnings.
I tested Windows 7 on 11 different computers, ranging from tiny netbooks to standard laptops to a couple of big desktops. These included machines from Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Acer, Asus, Toshiba and Sony. I even successfully ran it on an Apple Macintosh laptop. On some of these machines, Windows 7 was pre-loaded. On others, I had to upgrade from an earlier version of Windows.
In most cases, the installation took 45 minutes or less, and the new operating system worked snappily and well. But, I did encounter some drawbacks and problems. On a couple of these machines, glacial start-up and reboot times reminded me of Vista. And, on a couple of others, after upgrading, key features like the display or touchpad didn't work properly. Also, Windows 7 still requires add-on security software that has to be frequently updated. It's tedious and painful to upgrade an existing computer from XP to 7, and the variety of editions in which Windows 7 is offered is confusing.
Finally, Microsoft has stripped Windows 7 of familiar built-in applications, such as email, photo organizing, address book, calendar and video-editing programs. These can be downloaded free of charge, but they no longer come with the operating system, though some PC makers may choose to pre-load them.
In recent years, I, like many other reviewers, have argued that Apple's Mac OS X operating system is much better than Windows. That's no longer true. I still give the Mac OS a slight edge because it has a much easier and cheaper upgrade path; more built-in software programs; and far less vulnerability to viruses and other malicious software, which are overwhelmingly built to run on Windows.Posted by staff at October 8, 2009 10:45 AM