Windows 7: The XP Play

If you aren't interested in Windows 7, you might want to skip down to our letters section and pass over the next three items 'cause they're all about 7.

Earlier this week we talked about an XP compatibility mode tossed into Windows 7 at the last minute. Even though 7 seems pretty dang compatible, the XP Mode news was good. Then the doubts crept in: Would XP Mode be only for well-heeled Software Assurance customers?

We have the answer. XP Mode is only for semi-well-heeled Windows 7 Ultimate, Enterprise and Professional customers.

Windows 7 RC Out
So the last item has you thinking about Windows 7. Want to try it? You can, and not just a beta, but a nearly done release candidate. RC1 has been out through BitTorrent for a while, and I even snuck a peek at it this week in Las Vegas (what software goes in Vegas stays in Vegas). 

You can now go the official route and get the RC direct from Microsoft. If you subscribe to MSDN or TechNet, the software is all yours. If not, just wait 'til next Tuesday when there will be an overall public beta.

With moves like XP Mode, the dirt-cheap pricing of PCs, and the stability and performance, Windows 7 is a far better bet than any I made in Vegas. 

Windows 7 Ready To Ship?
OK, so you're excited about XP Mode and ready to download the Windows 7 RC. But what you really want is a replacement for your dull XP or less-than-satisfying Vista. What you want is a final version of 7.

Can you wait 'til October? That's when the rumor mill predicts a release. One piece of evidence? Acer plans to ship a Windows 7 box on Oct. 23.

Here's what the rumor mill doesn't understand: Software isn't like cheese, where it ages a certain amount and is ready that day. Software (should) only get released when it's ready. How on earth would Microsoft know with exactitude that it can incorporate the feedback of all the release candidate testers into a product that ships in a particular month?

October sounds about right to me, but who knows what will happen when hundreds of thousands of people pound on millions of lines of code?

Mailbag: The Mac Tax that Isn't, More
Microsoft has been talking up the so-called "Mac tax" to dissuade people from moving to Apple. Marc thinks it's a little disingenuous to call it that:

For what it is worth, the "Mac Tax" is not real! If you want, you can configure a Dell with specifications virtually identical to any Macintosh in the Apple product line and come up with very nearly identical pricing. The catch, of course, is that an Apple Macintosh is severely overpowered to meet the needs of most folks. Most folks can meet their computing needs with a $500 to $800 Dell, or they can go overboard and spend $1,000 and get a "fully loaded" Dell that will last them a good five years. Or, they can buy a "bottom-of-the-line" MacBook.

The truth is that if Apple could sell as many computers as Dell or HP, they could afford to sell low-end $500 computers, but because they don't sell a large enough number of computers to tolerate the extremely narrow profit margins Dell and HP get on those $500 systems, Apple simply cannot afford to do so. Dell and HP "take a loss" on those entry-level systems but they make it up on very high volumes and the occasional sale of $1,000-plus systems. All of Apple's systems must be $1,000-plus systems for them to stay in business.
-Marc

And one reader chimes in about an anecdote Doug told a few weeks ago about his daughter forgoing a cheap PC for a Mac:

Interesting story about Lauren, but it assumes everyone can just plop down a grand or more for a Mac and are just too cheap or stupid to do so. Personally, my home laptop isn't important enough to me to lay out that kind of cash. I've purchased laptops for myself and both my daughters for less than any single Mac I've seen on sale here. My $300 Toshiba running Vista hasn't given me one problem. (Low-dollar laptops running Vista. Goodness! How anti-geek of me.) The same can be said for my daughters' HP and Acer. Plus, if they lose them, I can afford to replace them. When I have to replace a PC it is far less painful than replacing a $1,500 Mac. The truth is that many many people just can't afford an overpriced, almost criminally proprietary computer.

I should make clear that my rant concerns only the Mac and the situation with replacing cheaper systems with the Mac. I'm not disparaging your daughter, who is probably a complete adorabloid and, like all little girls, deserves to be spoiled rotten by their daddy. I know mine do.
-G.

Tell us what you think! 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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