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Doug's Mailbag: Migrating to 7, In Defense of Works, More

On Wednesday, Kurt Mackie (writing in Doug's stead) wondered if Windows 7's arrival will finally signal XP's decline, and asked readers if their own migration plans bear this out. Here are your thoughts:

The feeling I'm getting from IT pros I talk to is that they're not resisting upgrading; they're resisting Vista. That's why everybody's still running XP. With Vista, Microsoft released an operating system that is, by many accounts, inferior to XP. So it wasn't worth slogging through the upgrade process to deploy Vista because it would actually lead to a worse computing experience.

However, according to many accounts, Windows 7 is at least comparable and quite possibly a superior operating system to XP. So many are excited about upgrading and about what Windows 7 brings. With that excitement comes at least a reluctant acceptance of the work that comes with upgrading. Microsoft execs are downplaying Windows 7 because of the egg on their face from Vista. But it wouldn't surprise me to see Windows 7 adopted at a far more rapid rate than Vista was or ever will be.

I have been testing Windows 7 since the beta, and so far, like it a lot. I am planning to migrate all my office machines to the new OS. I haven't been building any new machines for sale with XP since Vista, which I also like a lot. However, the new OS appears to be more robust and seems to be superior to Vista and XP for hardware compatibility and networking. Microsoft's mistakes in past have been the lack of compatibility drivers for new software. If Microsoft has done their homework with most of the hardware manufacturers, then the new OS will be a great success.

What you did not address in your article was the giant chasm of no upgrade path. The business adoption of Windows 7 will be retarded by the nightmare of having to do clean installations on huge numbers of desktops. (Not sure if "chasm" and "nightmare" is a mixing of metaphors. I guess it depends on your dreams.)

This week, Doug bid good riddance to Microsoft Works, which will soon be replaced by Office Starter. But Steve, for one, will be sorry to see the application go:

Sure, I thought that Works was useless and basic -- more like Word-Lite. But I was wrong. When I first got a PC after being a Mac fanatic, I found Works on my new HP desktop computer. Well, I thought, this is probably not much better than Notepad. Actually, it was way better. I really liked the spreadsheet and database functions -- just as good as any. Being an apartment manager, I kept track of tenants and payments with it, and created many forms I needed, including some math functions.

Now I've got the latest Word. Horrible. To me, it's a bloated mess with a bunch of nearly useless features. (Oh, I get to add the most-used tools like "save" and "save as" myself. Wow.) Works reminds me of the old ClarisWorks and AppleWorks. Elegant? No. Easy to use? Yes. And good enough for everyday use without tearing your hair out. Some people just want to write a letter, for chrissake. So bash Works if you want, but it has enabled me to get a lot of "work" done.

Doug's favorite word processor ever ran on the Amiga. One reader shares his pick, while another just tries to get the name down:

You brought back some great memories. My favorite office suite by far is PFS First Choice. It is very functional and intuitive to use. If I could find a 5 1/4-inch floppy drive, I would use it instead of Word, Excel and Access in a heartbeat. Microsoft just doesn't get that more complex doesn't equate to more functional -- or better.

What was the name of that Amiga word processor? I'm drawing a blank!

Finally, do numerous font choices drive you crazy?

They sure do!

Phew! I'm glad I finally got that off my chest.


More letters coming on Monday. Meanwhile, share your thoughts by writing a comment below or sending an e-mail to

Posted by Doug Barney on 10/23/2009 at 1:17 PM


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