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Microsoft Learns from Vista Mistakes with Windows 7

Windows 7 might just be a true rarity, a blue moon rising in the Pacific Northwest. Microsoft's next operating system could just be, if early returns are accurate, a highly anticipated product that actually lives up to its considerable hype.

Of course, following Vista is kind of like following one of those acts that gets chased off stage on Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater; it would take a considerable effort to actually look bad after something like that. So, Windows 7 has that going for it. Timing is everything, or at least very important.

But Windows 7 also has a wiser, more prudent Microsoft shepherding it along. We were encouraged to read this week that Microsoft will release the product not just when the final version is good and ready, but also when the partner "ecosystem" (we always envision a rainforest or something when we hear that word, perhaps not entirely inaccurately) is ready to support the new OS.

What dogged Vista probably more than anything else was application and driver incompatibility. (This was, of course, not entirely -- and maybe mostly not -- Microsoft's fault. But Microsoft bore the brunt of the lack of planning.) Well, there were those hardware requirements, too, and that user access control...but we digress. When printers, scanners and software wouldn't work in the new OS, word got around that Vista was pretty much useless.

And bad news not only travels fast; it also sticks around for a while. Long after Microsoft's partners had gotten their wares up to speed for Vista, users were still complaining about devices and applications that hadn't worked when the OS was launched -- among other things.

So this time, Microsoft is (hopefully) leaving nothing to chance. With some smart management, Windows 7 can have the sparkling debut we think it might just get. But this effort is not all about Microsoft. Partners will have to do their part, working with Redmond to get their apps and devices up to speed with the new OS.

You'd think that after all the years that Microsoft has been producing Windows and its big partners have been supporting the OS, the various beasts in the "ecosystem" would have this stuff figured out by now. Maybe not, if Vista is any indication. But, hey -- live and learn, right? Maybe 7 will prove to be a lucky number after all.

What are you doing to get ready for Windows 7? Let us know at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 02/03/2009 at 1:22 PM


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