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Vista's Days Numbered as Windows 7 Beta Nears

A quick note before we start: Your editor didn't realize until it was too late that there would be no RCPUs the week of Thanksgiving, otherwise known as last week. We had planned to run a barrage of reader feedback that week, but instead we went dark. So, as the holidays near and news inevitably slows over the next couple of weeks, expect some reader feedback from pretty deep in the archives to appear in this space. Your weeks-old e-mail might show up here yet. Don't give up hope!

Now, back to business. Not that Microsoft is trying to push Vista into the retirement home early or anything, but there could be a Windows 7 beta available as early as next month. In any case, folks who attend the upcoming MSDN Developer Conferences will get Windows 7 DVDs at some point, and that point might be as early as mid-January.

At least Redmond has stopped pretending that companies are going to suddenly wake up to the beauty of Vista and adopt it en masse. Microsoft hardly talks about Vista anymore -- the last hardcore marketing of it we heard came at the Worldwide Partner Conference in July, and all talk of Vista seemed to stop dead after that -- and Windows 7 has been the primary buzz generator in Redmond for a few months now.

We'd all be wise, though, not to view Windows 7 as some sort of operating-system messiah that's going to save us from Vista. It'll actually be a lot like Vista, as we all now know, and even Microsoft is starting the spin on differentiating Windows 7 from -- oh, dear -- a Vista service pack. If Redmond's already telling people that Windows 7 isn't just a glorified Vista service pack, well... We'll let you draw your own conclusions.

The real question will be whether people just didn't like Vista and therefore rejected it or whether they really, really like XP and don't want to move. If the former is true, Windows 7 will hopefully fix some of the issues that made Vista so annoying and get the Microsoft OS roadmap back on, um, track (there's a mixed metaphor in there somewhere -- sorry). However, if users stick with XP just because they like it and don't want to move away from it, Microsoft will face the much more daunting challenge of convincing customers that they really will need to upgrade to a new OS at some point -- or Redmond could just speed the end of XP support, we suppose, and force everybody's hand.

Either way, Windows 7 is as much of a watershed OS as a company with 90-plus percent market share can release. And it's already stealing the headlines from Vista -- which seems to be just what Microsoft wants.

What do you want from Windows 7? What will it take functionality-wise to pull you away from XP? Sound off at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 12/04/2008 at 1:22 PM


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