Friday, November 13, 2009

Where's Windows at?

My first experience of Microsoft Windows was Windows 3.1, if memory serves. After that, I must have used various incarnations at times ('95, '98, 2000) before using XP on a regular basis on my own computers. Now we have Windows 7, but where is Windows really at?
Was Vista really Windows 7, and is Windows 7 really just Vista SP3?
My own experience with XP was that it wasn't as good as it could have been when it came out, but MS improved it over the years and now XP SP3 is an excellent operating system- with some life left in it thanks to the fact that so many Netbooks use it now. I had an option to upgrade to Vista on my last computer, but didn't take it up, because I hadn't heard good things about the OS.
Vista users are not so lucky- they face paying for an upgrade to get the OS that Vista should have been- i.e. Windows 7, a.k.a. Vista SP3.
Does staying with XP make sense. Well, XP is actually faster in some tests than Vista and Windows 7. Scott M. Fulton, III at BetaNews gives this reasonable advice:
Meanwhile, many very intelligent XP users who skipped out on the whole Vista debacle, may be considering whether to purchase a Windows 7 "upgrade" package, or a new computer with Win7 already on it. The dilemma for them has less to do with the operating system than with the state of their computer: Too many 2002-era single-core PCs out there have a single hard drive that's littered with media files and documents that have never been offloaded, perhaps never even backed up. Many are running Office XP, because their businesses run Office XP (on Windows 2000), perhaps because they can't install a newer version of Office without breaking their VPN software. Like bacteria cultures, their computers have become mossy, overgrown hives of inactivity, where sometimes the Internet works and sometimes it doesn't.

For these's time already. The world has evolved, and it's a lot nicer out here now. It's time for that long-overdue visit to the toxic waste disposal facility.

On the other hand, if you are running Windows XP on a modern, multi-core system, that's well-managed with its data files on an independent drive from the system device, whose networking is fast and crystal-clear, whose media files are all well organized, and that's secured by hardware and software firewalls along with non-intrusive anti-malware utilities, then is there a compelling reason for you to consider keeping the hardware and upgrading the operating system to Windows 7?

I say there is: The genuine advances that the Vista kernel (especially the 64-bit kernel) made to system security are all present in Windows 7 (which even technically speaking is really Windows 6.1). The truly good ideas that Vista advanced, especially with regard to software access policies, are all present in Windows 7. But you're not paying a significant performance penalty for them.
Does it make sense to pay for an upgrade?
Even after reading this, one question probably still remains on many readers' minds: If Windows 7 truly represents the level of functionality that Vista should have provided from the beginning, then shouldn't Microsoft be paying for it and not the public?

If Vista were an insecure system, then I would say yes. It was not. It was an annoying system, especially with "features" like the Black Screen of Death. But it was not Windows Me, the travesty of code that represents the absolute nadir of Microsoft's development history, the "Disco Era" for Windows.

Even then, however, I said Windows XP was worth paying for. XP -- the first version, the one I said in hindsight was desperately in need of a transplant. The fact that I value my time (with a calculator) is just one reason. The fact that I value the developers' time spent making this work, is the other. Yes, I've said Windows 7 is "Vista Service Pack 3," and I stand by that. But in terms of the work Microsoft's people are genuinely devoting to improving the quality of this product (whose quality needed improvement), I do believe it is worth the investment. Windows Me was not worth the investment; Windows 98 (pre-OSR2) was not worth the investment.

But as anyone who's done the work knows, cleaning up crap is a dirty job. Someone has to do it, and there are days I'm glad it's not me. Windows 7 is cleaner, brighter, and sanitized for your convenience. And that's worth the tip.
I honestly look forward to trying out Windows 7 at some point in the future- but for the life of this computer, it will run XP SP3 and, of course, the latest version of Ubuntu.

No comments:

Post a Comment