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Doug's Mailbag: Windows 7 High and Low, More

Doug asked recently whether readers saw a serious advantage in getting a higher-end version of Windows 7 instead of a low-end version. Here are some of your thoughts:

For most consumers, the short answer is "eye candy." Otherwise, no! Most consumers would find Windows 7 Starter to be just fine on hardware with under 4GB of RAM. (Windows 7 needs no more than 2GB for most consumers.) That's why Microsoft has severely restricted the hardware on which it can be sold. And there is NO retail channel for Windows 7 Starter. Windows 7 starter will not allow any customization of the wallpaper and it won't run AERO. I don't recall if Starter will do back ups or not but that would be the only BIG issue for most consumers.

Microsoft has good reasons for offering three editions in the U.S., though they should be named simply Home, Professional and Ultimate/Enterprise. But by making Starter available anywhere in the industrialized world (and even talking about Home Basic), Microsoft is just giving itself a black eye in terms of public perception.

I would prefer to use Windows 2000 Pro over the featureless versions of Windows 7 Starter.

From a price standpoint, Ultimate makes no sense. My clients, all small businesses, have not moved to Vista but they are looking at Windows 7. But for them, I cannot justify spending the additional amount for the Ultimate version.

Microsoft needs to simplify the options. Take us back to the days of Windows 2000 and Windows 2000 Server. I can almost justify one version of Home version, but why two? What Microsoft fails to understand is the cost to maintain these different versions, let alone explain them. And I cannot believe that their transaction costs are higher with all these versions. I would love to see a breakdown of the market share of all the XP and Vista versions.

And more readers share their Windows 7 adoption plans, while others explain why they'll stick with the older OSes:

I have been running Windows 7 since the beta, and I loved the RC. I have already transitioned all of my personal consulting systems to Windows 7, and have VMs to run XP for testing. I have also already started to advise my clients who have Software Assurance to make plans to transition off Vista within the next four to six months if they have the budget to pay for my consulting time. And for customers who don't have SA but are running Vista, I have already started a migration plan for them to transition away from Vista as quickly as they can.

While I thought XP was a great OS, and I was never a Vista hater, I can't see why places with active SAs in place wouldn't be diving to get 7 in place after they complete their application portfolio testing and validation. This is even more important for sites that made the Vista plunge; I enjoyed my laptop much better after moving away from Vista. As far as performance goes, Windows 7 is hands-down better than either XP or Vista on older equipment. The first platform I installed 7 on was a 3 year-old Dell 6000. Other than running Linux, I never got better performance from the system.

I appreciate functional enhancements, but I do not like Windows 7's (and Vista's) Disneyland look and feel. For example, what is the deal with green folders? Are we at the Haunted Mansion? And why do I have a pile of junk visibly spilling out of all my folders? We do not need to see snippets of files spilling out into Windows Explorer! Lastly, everything is in a different place with a monologue next to a link. I do not want to read 'War and Peace' just to change my desktop settings! Who thought of this mess?

XP is great -- easy on the eyes, you can find everything, the folders look like folders. Windows 7 works great but XP looks better and does not have all the boring text links that explain things to tears.

I am building a new screaming-fast machine for Windows 7, but I also have nine other machines that run on different operating systems. Four use Windows 2000, two use XP, two use Windows 98 and one uses DOS. Why so many different operating systems? Software compatibility. Contrary to the hype, most software only seems to function on the operating system it was designed for, and I need to use some of that old software. Using different operating systems actually saves me time, money and headaches. Enough said.

On my home network, Windows 2000 Pro and Server still carry the majority of the load. Only two machines out of seven have XP, and that is because they came with it. At work, we are currently 100 percent XP on the desktop, but plans are to move to Windows 7 in the middle of next year.

Windows 7 is pretty but that is not a compelling reason to spend a bunch of money on it.

As a self-employed MCP, I support smaller busnesses -- generally well under 100 employees and less than 50 computers. These people don't what the OS is; as long as the computer runs their applications with reasonable speed, they are not going to run out and buy a new PC. If forced to upgrade to Windows 7, they will do so on a case-by-case basis in order to run newer applications. I advise my clients to advance only when it is absolutely necessary.

Personally, I will wait at least until SP1 comes out. I have avoided many pitfalls by choosing OSes carefully.

I've been using Windows 7 since the beta and have sent in many reports with recommended fixes or improvements. I was pleased to see Microsoft actually respond and fix these (most likely because many beta testers also sent in responses). The final product is a very stable and very good OS. I really like having virtualization built in.

Windows 7 is the future, so there is no sense ignoring it or burying your head in the sand and pretending otherwise. I give Microsoft kudos -- although next time, it needs to make sure marketing isn't driving the bus to push out a product before it's ready.

Tell us what you think! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to [email protected]

Posted by Doug Barney on 10/09/2009 at 1:17 PM


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