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Windows 7 launches

Today is Windows 7 launch day, the day that Microsoft hopes to erase the ghosts of Windows Vista, and move forward.  After many months of using the beta versions of Windows 7, I feel confident declaring it the best Windows yet. Windows 7 is solid, it performs well, and the rough edges of the new user experience pioneered in Windows Vista have been shaved off.

I run Windows 7 on a variety of hardware – a couple of Core2 Quad PC’s equipped with 6 and 8 gigabytes of RAM respectively, an Athlon 3800 single core with 2 gigabytes of RAM, a core2 Duo with 2 gigabytes of RAM, and an HP Mini 1000 with an Atom N270 single core processor and 2 gigabytes of RAM.  Windows 7 performs well on them all. The single biggest performance factor is having sufficient RAM.  Microsoft’s system requirements page says that 1 gigabyte of RAM is sufficient for Windows 7.  In my experience with the beta, that’s not enough.  2 gigabytes is a requirement for acceptable performance.  A gigabyte of RAM is a $30 to $50 investment – spend the money!

And what of Apple?  Coming off outstanding financial results at the beginning of the week, Apple sought to trump Microsoft’s launch by announcing new products of their own.  Nicely played! 

In the short term, we shouldn’t expect Apple’s marketing tactics to take a new tack, even though Windows 7 is launched.  Yes, it will be more difficult to attack Windows 7 than Windows Vista.  However, the prize money in this battle is in shifting the upgraders – those who have held off on Windows Vista and are still on XP.  Their computers are old, and many are not likely candidates for Windows 7 because of hardware constraints. Even if those computers are capable of running Windows 7, Windows XP is not a supported upgrade to Windows 7.  Can those consumers be persuaded to move to Macintosh instead of buying a new PC?

DISCLOSURE: Until 2000 I was a Microsoft employee, and a member of the Windows team.  I’m not a Microsoft shareholder (it has been a terrible investment, and I sold Microsoft out of my retirement savings portfolio years ago), nor do I hope to work for the company at any point in the future, which is to say I’ve no vested interest in seeing them succeed.

{ 9 comments… add one }

  • David October 22, 2009, 6:43 am

    "Can those consumers be persuaded to move to Macintosh instead of buying a new PC?"

    Repeat 10x:
    The Mac *is* a PC.
    The Mac *is* a PC.
    The Mac *is* a PC.
    The Mac *is* a PC.
    The Mac *is* a PC.
    The Mac *is* a PC.
    The Mac *is* a PC.
    The Mac *is* a PC.
    The Mac *is* a PC.
    The Mac *is* a PC.

    Sure, a couple of decades ago there was a product called the "IBM PC" and the Mac competed against it, but today, whether they run MacOS, Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, or something else, they're all personal computers. It's sad to see the Mac commercials still rehashing the glory days of the 1980s by using the term "PC" to refer to any computer running MS Windows.

  • Mitch Brisebois October 22, 2009, 8:40 am

    Just like iPhone is just a phone?? 😉

  • Alec October 22, 2009, 10:49 am

    Flamebait, or flamebaited, Mitch? Take your pick!

  • Alec October 22, 2009, 10:52 am

    To me it’s just branding, David. I have a sticker on my notebook which says “I’m a PC”, and I proudly carry it. I’ve never been able to get past the price premium for Apple hardware. So I don’t mind that personal computers for the rest of us are called PC’s, and Apple’s elitist products are called Mac’s in the common vernacular. I actually think it works to Microsoft’s advantage, interestingly enough…

  • Mitch Brisebois October 22, 2009, 12:31 pm

    Funny, Alec!

    I agree with your point that the "flamming" PC vs Mac divide only helps both Apple and Microsoft. As David points out it's also very artificial.

    It is easy to berate Microsoft's OS monopoly, but how many berate Apple for its iTunes 70% marketshare?

    BTW – Win7 runs great on a MacBook!!

  • David October 22, 2009, 12:34 pm

    There is a third option.

    If you have an old computer with only 1 GB of RAM, you could also install Ubuntu and avoid buying a new computer at all. Heck, if you have a computer with only 256 MB of RAM, it will still run fine with the latest Ubuntu (slightly slow, but fine).

    Ubuntu's brought desktop Linux a long way in the last couple of years — when I installed 9.04, it actually did better working with device drivers, etc. than Vista did (and don't get me started on how hard it is to get third-party hardware working with MacOS — it's like dealing with Linux 5-10 years ago). I guess my notebook should say "I'm a Penguin."

  • David October 22, 2009, 12:42 pm

    Mitch:

    I'm with you. Microsoft is an old lion with no teeth, and I think it's silly to worry much about the company any more, even if it does manage an impressive roar like Windows 7 once in a while.

    The iPod doesn't bother me much, since you can still install songs from other sources (including ripped CDs or Amazon's unprotected MP3s) on it. The iPhone scares me a lot more, because it's a walled garden — even Microsoft never had the audacity to require all Windows apps to be preapproved by them. Apple is a monopolist like MS never even dreamed of trying to be.

  • Mitch Brisebois October 22, 2009, 1:28 pm

    David – I never said Microsoft is old lion with a bad dental plan! It's quite adept at many things. Computing for the masses requires healthy competitors. "penguin" OSs are part of the evolution, perhaps. But the geeks don't seem to think much about usability. That's the downfall of Ubuntu so far.

    • Alec October 23, 2009, 7:57 am

      I haven't tried Ubuntu recently. Maybe should have another look. On a related note, I'm definitely going to give this a whirl… http://www.psystar.com/rebel_efi

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