Clean Windows

Windows 7 is on its way, and it could be here much sooner than anticipated, with Acer apparently revealing that it would be selling systems with the new OS by October 23rd this year

Tags: Microsoft Corporation
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By  Mark Sutton Published  May 5, 2009

Windows 7 is on its way, and it could be here much sooner than anticipated, with Acer apparently revealing that it would be selling systems with the new OS by October 23rd this year. That would be the day after Gitex, and less than three years after general availability of Windows Vista.

While there's a fair bit of enthusiasm for Windows 7 (see our Windows mag first look here), which many are saying is the leap in functionality and usability that Vista should have been, Microsoft still seem to be intent on risking the initial positive response with more confusion around what exactly they will be selling, and when.

For a start, there are slated to be six different versions of Windows 7. While the convergence of home and office versions on the NT kernel meant there was a need to create distinct products for home and business users, six skews is still too many, particularly when the lower versions restrict or remove functionality. Getting told by your new PC that you can't do something unless you pay for an upgrade is not a great user experience.

The same goes for netbooks - Microsoft is keen to promote the fact that Windows 7 will run on small cheap laptops - but the version that's most likely to be sold on netbooks is the Starter edition, which limits the user to only three applications open at once, no media player and limited networking. Again, its just not a good user experience, and likely to leave netbook users wondering if Linux might not have been a better idea.

My other big gripe is when the system will be available. The Release Candidate is available now for testing, which should mean that Windows 7 is very nearly ready. Microsoft has said that it will run a free upgrade scheme for Vista systems bought within thirty days of launch, which given an end of October launch,  would help them to hitch some sales on the back-to-school buying season in September.

However, Microsoft is adamant that Windows 7 won't launch until they have reached their 'quality bar'. It's a difficult balance, between making sure the product delivers that good user experience by actually doing what it's supposed to without many hitches out of the box, and getting it into the market as soon as  possible, but I think Microsoft should be looking at sooner rather than later. Vista isn't going anywhere, and Microsoft could do with the revenues from a new OS.  Dragging out the launch process just gives more opportunity to competitors who are gaining interest through things like Linux on netbooks and sleek Mac products.

Above all, Microsoft needs to avoid a repeat of the  'Vista Ready' debacle, a botched scheme that brought law suits, and some embarrassing revelations about how it works with hardware partners. Getting Windows 7 out, even if its got some issues to sort out, at least gets home and business buyers thinking about the OS now, and early adopters talking about it and troubleshooting it, which will give a boost to sales once the markets are really ready to buy new PCs again.

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