Windows 7: Small step for Vista or giant leap?

Reviews mixed, mostly good

Is the new Windows 7 operating system truly a new operating system, or is it more of a service pack-level upgrade of Windows Vista?

John Breeden, director of GCN Labs, thought the latter description was more apt. In a review first published on GCN.com and then on FCW.com and other 1105 Government Information Group sites, Breeden explained his reasoning: Most of the annoyances that Windows Vista users contend with are still there in Windows 7, such as a confirmation screen asking whether you really want to run a program you just clicked on. Meanwhile, there are some new features and improvements, but nothing significant enough to justify giving it a new product name.

“We just don’t see enough of a change to warrant the purchase of an entirely new operating system. Windows XP Service Pack 2 changed that operating system a lot more than moving from Vista to W7 will,” Breeden wrote. “So if your computers are running XP and everything works fine, there is no need to jump to W7 right away. And if you’ve already moved to Vista, you pretty much have W7 already, albeit without a couple of nice additional features.”

Other reviewers stopped short of saying the same but came close. The Associated Press review praised the new operating system, especially as an improvement over XP, but was less enthusiastic about its advances over Vista.

“If your computer runs Windows Vista, I think it's hard to justify spending $120 for an upgrade,” the unbylined reviewer wrote. “The new features are nice but hardly must-haves. For daily e-mail and Web surfing, they won't make much of a difference. Vista was much maligned when it arrived in early 2007 for being slow, buggy and annoying. Now, it really isn't that bad, because updates have fixed a lot of the problems.”

At the New York Times, on the other hand, tech guru David Pogue had little but praise for the new product.

"Windows 7 comes out Thursday," Pogue wrote in a review published Oct. 22. "And if the programmers at Microsoft have any strength left at all, they are high-fiving. Their three-year Windows Vista nightmare is over. That operating system’s wretched reputation may have been overblown; at the outset, it was slow, intrusive and incompatible with a lot of gadgets, but it’s been quietly improved over the years. ... Windows 7 is a different story. It keeps what’s good about Windows Vista, like security, stability and generous eye candy, and addresses much of what people disliked.”

In Britain, the TimesOnline found that Windows 7 not only built on Vista but also on Apple’s OS X operating system.

“There is more than a tang of Apple about the new Windows 7 desktop as well,” wrote TimesOnline technology editor Nigel Kendall. “Like the Dock in Apple’s OS X, the bottom bar on the Windows screen now displays open applications and favourite programs together, in a line running across the screen. You can pin new programmes here, re-order them in order of preference, or remove them from the bar without removing them from your system. Other Apple-like features include instant search for files and folders on your PC.”

Kendall found some caveats as well, largely in the number of versions of Windows 7. 

“The base Starter pack, designed for netbooks, comes without many of the Web-based features you bought a netbook for in the first place,” he notes. “To get these, you will need Home Premium or Ultimate, at extra cost. Owners of Vista Premium should be aware that they need to buy Windows 7 Premium for all their features to transfer.”

And is Windows 7 a full new operating system, or just an incremental step up from Vista? Like most reviewers, Kendall doesn’t say. But he does consider it an improvement.

“So the Windows 7 experience is, so far, largely positive, certainly compared with the cluttered Vista,” he writes. “It looks clean, works quickly, and gets out of the way, as a good operating system should.”

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

The 2015 Federal 100

Meet 100 women and men who are doing great things in federal IT.

Featured

  • Shutterstock image (by venimo): e-learning concept image, digital content and online webinar icons.

    Can MOOCs make the grade for federal training?

    Massive open online courses can offer specialized IT instruction on a flexible schedule and on the cheap. That may not always mesh with government's preference for structure and certification, however.

  • Shutterstock image (by edel): graduation cap and diploma.

    Cybersecurity: 6 schools with the right stuff

    The federal government craves more cybersecurity professionals. These six schools are helping meet that demand.

  • Rick Holgate

    Holgate to depart ATF

    Former ACT president will take a job with Gartner, follow his spouse to Vienna, Austria.

  • Are VA techies slacking off on Yammer?

    A new IG report cites security and productivity concerns associated with employees' use of the popular online collaboration tool.

  • Shutterstock image: digital fingerprint, cyber crime.

    Exclusive: The OPM breach details you haven't seen

    An official timeline of the Office of Personnel Management breach obtained by FCW pinpoints the hackers’ calibrated extraction of data, and the government's step-by-step response.

  • Stephen Warren

    Deputy CIO Warren exits VA

    The onetime acting CIO at Veterans Affairs will be taking over CIO duties at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

  • Shutterstock image: monitoring factors of healthcare.

    DOD awards massive health records contract

    Leidos, Accenture and Cerner pull off an unexpected win of the multi-billion-dollar Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization contract, beating out the presumptive health-records leader.

  • Sweating the OPM data breach -- Illustration by Dragutin Cvijanovic

    Sweating the stolen data

    Millions of background-check records were compromised, OPM now says. Here's the jaw-dropping range of personal data that was exposed.

  • FCW magazine

    Let's talk about Alliant 2

    The General Services Administration is going to great lengths to gather feedback on its IT services GWAC. Will it make for a better acquisition vehicle?

Reader comments

Fri, Oct 23, 2009 Joseph KC

This is one of the most ridiculous articles I've read all year. It was clearly written out of need for content and not out of any understanding of OS release.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above