Frank Ohlhorst at Ziff Davis Enterprise has written a size up of Windows 7 for ChannelInsider (Is Microsoft Windows 7 the Obama of the OS World?) that is a bit short sighted about the depth of the problems with Windows 7’s predecessor Microsoft Vista – and therefore he tends to over-rate Windows 7. Here are two quotes which give a flavor for the myopia:

“Most of the failings of Microsoft’s operating systems fall under the umbrella of perception. But the truth of the matter was that none of those OSes were all that bad — including Vista. The problem is perception is what sells products, not actual [performance]…. Many of the changes in Windows 7 were created to address user complaints about Windows Vista, the biggest complaint being User Account Controls. Here, Microsoft has made it easier to adjust the level of warnings and notifications. Those changes allow users to “quiet down” security warnings, but at the expense of not warning the user of potential security problems.”

If I read Frank on face value, he is saying that it is perceived not real problems plaguing Vista. And so the uptake in businesses which has been very small and the force-feed onto consumers of Vista can be “justified” (Windows XP is only an extra cost option available from some vendors for their new PCs).

The problem is that if Frank’s assessment reflects the views in Redmond, then Windows 7 will continue with major problems that may still make Windows 7 the worst of the desktop operating systems – much like IE8 is the worst of the available browsers. IE8 has improved over IE6 and IE7, but it still is losing ground to Firefox, Chrome, and Safari which have improved even more by delivering much greater Web standards compliance, more convenience features, and much better speed especially with Web 2.0 based interactive sites. Will Windows 7 be like IE8, hoping to  win by sheer weight of numbers of users and Window’s leading position in  numbers of available apps?

Why Frank is being Myopic

Actually I don’t know why Frank is being myopic but I can surely show how he has discounted very serious Vista deficiencies – sometimes just baldly omitting them as if they really did not matter:
1)Its not “perception” it is fact that Windows Vista is bloated. Read the following tests of Windows Vista versus Linux and the amount of memory used right at startup. Linux = 100MB, Vista = 530MB. I can further testify that running just one app, Microsoft Word 2007, on Vista  4GB versus Windows XP using 3GB on otherwise  the same machine the difference was even more pronounced  with Vista weighing in at 1.5GB versus  Windows XP at 713MB – the same document loaded, no work done, same version of Word.  Vista took more than double the memory.
2)It is not a “perception” it is fact that Windows Vista runs about 30-40% slower than Windows XP.  See the following tests of same versions of  Photoshop CS4 running again on the same machine, using identically the same image resources – the only difference being 4GB of Windows Vista versus 3GB of Windows XP. Despite giving away one GB of memory Windows XP SP2 clearly outperformed Vista SP1. In a series of unpublished tests using a MySQL database with 123,000 record table being joined to  various 20,000 to 70,000 record tables, Windows XP at 3GB  was consistently 50% faster than Windows Vista at 4GB.
3)It is not “perception” but fact that Windows Vista when introduced had many driver problems particularly with old versions of various devices. Read here the fun and games that new Vista users had to go through to make sure that their peripherals would work with Vista. I have a colleague who had said good-bye to his Nikon  scanner and favorite Canon inkjet printer because those vendors consider the products “obsolete” and have not updated the drivers.  However, my friend just capitulated and got rid of Vista, bought a new copy of Windows XP and was able to save his old favorite peripherals. In the bargain he got a much faster machine for the DTP and Flash work he does.
4)It is not “perception” but fact that Windows Vista had many software compatibilty problems at its introduction. The following U Of Wisconsin_Madison site list give a good view of the  early 2007-8 compatability problems. As with peripherals, older software applications just did not get updated – so users of say Corel Painter 8 or earlier and Adobe Pagemaker got some rude surprises when working in Vista especially with old hardware and peripherals. In fact older machines which worked fine in Windows XP just could not carry the load and often could not have “simple upgrades” to multiple GBs of memory or disk space because the laptops and PCs were already maxxed out or just did not have room for or compatibility with the latest memory chips or disks drives.
5)It is not perception but a fact that Vista presents more learning for users than Vista. It is just not “People Ready” as even Frank acknowledges with security Action Setting and a host of other features. There are significant learning curves with Vista depending on which of 6 editions users get.
These are real problems with Vista that has kept its market share below 30% 2 years after its introduction. Windows 7 will have to address all of these “perceived” shortcoming if it hopes to gain favor with corporates who have avoided it.


Jim Rapoza at eWeek did a recent review of IE8 in which he headlined IE8 as “an essential upgrade”. Then Jim proceeeded to tell us in the deep in the report and an earlier posting that really Apple Safari, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox were much faster and had better adherence to Web Standards. To an extent, that is the same kind of review readers are getting here with one major exception – Frank has omitted the bloat and speed/performance factors and not-People Ready while only addressing the hardware and software compatibility issues as being the real problems. Unfortunately Redmond may be doing the same.

So Windows 7 will still be unable to beat Windows XP clearly and distinctly in all cases of existing shortcomings. And even worse, the problem for Windows 7 is that not only does it have to best Windows XP and MacOS and Linux(on Netbooks) but it is now competing with Netbooks, Kindles, smartphones, and Web 2.0 powered browsers – and Windows 7 just may not be performant enough to vie well with all its competitors.

3 Responses

  1. the interface of Windows 7 is great but in my opinion Windows XP is still a very solid and stable operating system. Right now, I would never give up XP for Windows 7.

  2. Hi BodydeTox –

    The OS land scape is changing VERY FAST – like this Fall. With Google Chrome and Android to be available on Netbooks, Mac doing something in the tablet arena and of course Windows 7 RTM maybe providing a speed surprise – who knows.

    But I am of mixed minds on retaining even Windows XP. I am seriously thinking of getting a Mac running Parallels or some other virtual machine and then just switching between the OS I need based on applications.