Windows 7 Versions Verified

Yesterday Microsoft announced, or least disclosed, how many versions of Windows 7 it plans to sell. Microsoft is planning two main lines, one for home and one for business. But within that are more options. In fact, there will be six versions, beginning with a low-end starter pack and topping out with the Windows 7 Enterprise Edition.

I've always thought fewer versions are better, but I don't sit in the Windows 7 steering committee. Is six too many? Send your advice to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Vista: The 10 Percent Solution
Vista fans (some of whom you'll hear from in today's Mailbag section) wonder why I'm down on Vista. I'm a critic because most of you are critics. The latest proof point? Research from Forrester that gives Vista less than 10 percent share of the enterprise market -- this after a solid two years of shipping and one major service pack.

Forrester, however, argues that "enterprises are warming to Windows Vista," and by the end of the year half of all enterprises will be penetrated to some degree by Vista. (But after hearing from a cool dozen Redmond Report readers who are testing Windows 7, I believe by the end of the year half of all enterprises will be penetrated to some degree by Windows 7!)

Forrester analysts advise moving to Vista first, then Windows 7, because the two OSes are basically the same and use the same code base. I'm not sure if these ivory tower spreadsheet jockeys have talked to real Vista users and real Windows 7 beta testers. If they had, they'd know that Windows 7 is everything that Vista should've been and promises to be a far better operating system.

A $10 Laptop with a Little Masala and Naan on the Side
Laptops are getting cheaper and cheaper. The low-end, low-memory netbooks are around $300, and various charitable groups are still aiming for a $100 Third World lapper.

The Indian government thinks none of these machines are cheap enough. It wants a $10 laptop. Critics say this price point is a pipe dream, while the rest of us await further details from the Indian authorities.

Mailbag: Too Harsh on Vista?, More
As promised, here are some of your thoughts on Vista -- and whether Doug's been giving the OS a rougher time than it deserves:

No, you are not being too harsh on Vista. I ran it from the beta versions and have had many many problems -- drivers, speed, BSODs, etc. Maybe SP2 will fix Vista but I am not too optimistic.

I have, on the other hand, downloaded and installed Windows 7. This is what Vista SHOULD have been -- flawless install, and boot-up speeds are great. It seems Microsoft has a winner this time around.
-David

Heck no, you are not being too harsh on Vista. Vista is still flopping like a fish just pulled out of the lake and gasping for air as it asphyxiates on the shore. If SP2 can streamline the system, quits bugging its users by asking permission for everything it does, and doesn't break anything, then I think it will succeed. I never applied SP1 for fear of rending my system like a suffocated fish.
-Casey

No, I don't think you're being too harsh on Vista, generally speaking. It was oversold. I know because I was part of it. There is no way it was ever meant to be run on the hardware specs given. Internally at MSFT, we fought through many driver issues on demo machines. However, having used it in production since beta 1, I can say it has definitely gotten an undeserved bad rap. There were certainly many problems, but most were related to third parties not being prepared with drivers and software to support the new OS. True, a big part of that blame does rest on Microsoft's shoulders. Keep in mind, two key Microsoft executives "left" right after shipping: Brian Valentine to Amazon and Jim Allchin to retirement. That says something about what they and Microsoft truly felt about the effort. It wasn't ready still, even though it certainly should have been after so many years.

Windows 7 is different in that this is a new Windows team; Sinofsky is incredible and his team really believes in him, along with Jon Devaan. So we shouldn't be surprised that Windows 7 beta 1 is better than Vista beta 2 or maybe even RC1. However, it will get better still. Vista today, with SP2 beta, is as good as you can currently get in an OS. In terms of compatibility and usability, it's better than Mac and Ubuntu. So if you're still not happy with Vista, then maybe you're being a little too hard. However, don't be too kind to Windows 7 in this early stage, other than to be really excited about its final RTM future -- which will be great.
-Brian

Vista is a perfectly stable operating system...now. When it was first released, it was buggy and it did crash on me a few times. I don't agree that it was released too early, though. The alpha and betas were out for almost two years before the actual release, which is more than enough time for vendors to rewrite drivers. What was MS expected to do? Wait another two years for all hardware vendors to catch up?

My biggest issue is that after looking at Windows 7, I can't believe MS is able to get away with selling it as a brand-new OS. It's XP all over again. It's such a minor upgrade on Vista that it should've been a service pack, but we all know the only reason it's being released is so that Microsoft doesn't have to support XP and all corporations are forced to upgrade (if they don't move to Linux/Mac). Don't get me wrong, I love the stability of it and it seems to run a lot faster than Vista, especially on older hardware. But it just isn't a new operating system.

-Omer

I really don't know why everyone is so harsh on Vista. Yes, when it was first released, there was a huge lack of drivers and many program compatibility issues. However, we have been running it in our own office for quite some time and have deployed it for the few customers that listened to us instead of you nay-sayers. We have found it to be quite stable, at least as stable as XP, and definitely more secure. We see lots of XP PCs every day infected with tons of malware. The only time we saw a Vista PC infected, we asked the user if he clicked OK when the UAC asked permission to install the malware, and of course he said yes.

Vista is not perfect. No operating system has ever been. But I wouldn't go back to XP if you paid me.
-Paul

Richard wonders about the EU's recently renewed crusade against Microsoft's practice of bundling IE:

I seem to remember the release of a version of Windows for the European market that did not contain the media player so that free choice could reign. The result seemed to be a bunch of boxes of the playerless versions sitting on store shelves for want of takers. Is the EU repeating itself because the fifth-ranked browser is trying to gain market share?
-Richard

Finally, correlation does not imply causation, but...

I once worked for a the IT department of a large retail chain of electronics. They were a BIG user of Lotus Notes. Then they contracted out all IT functions to IBM...and now they have declared bankruptcy. I'm not drawing any conclusions; I'm just stating facts!
-Anonymous

Check in on Friday to read more letters! And don't forget to share your own thoughts with us -- leave a comment below or send an e-mail to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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