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Microsoft Windows 7 has arrived…to mixed reviews

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Windows 7, MicrosoftAs Microsoft unleashes Windows 7 on the world Thursday, the consensus among those who have already taken the new operating system out for a spin is that while it’s no PC panacea, at least it’s not a repeat of the mistakes Microsoft made with Vista, which was launched in January 2007.

InfoWorld has characterized Windows 7′s much-heralded support for multi-touch capabilities (which allow users to manipulate some objects on their monitor using their fingers) as a "disappointment" and "underwhelming" in different articles while pointing out that the new task bar located at the bottom of the main screen is something Mac OS X has offered for years. 

The capacity to operate a PC using a touch screen—a feature that both Windows 7 and Mac OS X Snow Leopard offer—is a hit-or-miss proposition. While it’s certainly useful if you’re browsing the Web or otherwise engaging the interface for only a few minutes at a time, InfoWorld makes the point that users will not likely want to use the touch capability while working for hours at a time. Setting aside the need to keep one’s arm extended and elevated when touching the PC screen, InfoWorld notes, "the finger rarely makes a better mouse than a mouse." This could turn out to be an interesting dilemma for the PC industry in the near term, particularly because many of the biggest PC makers, including HP with TouchSmart and Dell with Studio One, have introduced lineups of touch-enabled PCs.

The New York Times is more optimistic about Windows 7, pointing out that even though upgrading from much-beloved Windows XP to the new operating system isn’t easy, Microsoft has kept "what’s good about Windows Vista, like security, stability and generous eye candy, and addresses much of what people disliked," such as Vista’s sluggish responsiveness, slavish demand for PC memory, and persistent, alarmist popup boxes.

Regardless of whether Windows 7 is an immediate success, reports that the new operating system puts Microsoft on the right track after the Vista detour: "Windows 7 is more than what Vista should have been, it’s where Microsoft needed to go." Success with its newest iteration of Windows is particularly important to Microsoft as Apple continues to pick up steam as a PC (and operating system) maker and IBM pushes an open-source Linux-based PC operating system, created in conjunction with Canonical Ltd., called IBM Client for Smart Work.

Image © Sawayasu Tsuji

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  1. 1. Inconnux 4:56 pm 10/22/2009

    Well win7 couldn’t get any worse than Vista

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  2. 2. calevenice 5:38 pm 10/22/2009

    So for casual computer users, does this mean Windows 7 is a definitive upgrade?

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  3. 3. Mr.Coffee 5:40 pm 10/22/2009

    I wasn’t impressed the the release candidate that I tried several weeks ago. But I would like to check this out and see what they’ve improved since then. It’s always nice to have one pc in the house running windows. I hope that Win7 turns out to be everything windows users are hoping for, just for their sake.

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  4. 4. amdrox 6:43 pm 10/22/2009

    Haven’t yet had the opportunity to try w7, but hopefully it will eliminate some sluggishness from my computer. 6-minute boots are crap.

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  5. 5. alin`c 9:17 pm 10/22/2009

    like vista is bad in surround speakers and games.i have rtm..some blue screens so far but it`s still alive,i wonder if or when will die(like xp).

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  6. 6. hawkeye 10:49 pm 10/22/2009

    Why would I ever want to ditch my mouse, and leave a bunch of greasy fingerprints on my monitor screen? Sounds like another solution in search of a problem.

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  7. 7. pgtruspace 1:21 am 10/23/2009

    I’ll keep my XP and mouse untill they pry it from my cold dead hands. I hate it when Microsoft fixes something that works well.
    I started with an XT with dos 3, I’m getting tired of learning new tricks and buying new equipment every few years.

    An old dog!

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  8. 8. Spoonman 10:04 am 10/23/2009

    I’ve been using Win7 since beta 2 and have been extremely impressed by it since day one. Of course, as an IT professional, my job is to actually USE OSes instead of just reporting on them. I try to reserve judgment until then as the reality of most of the major magazine’s authors aren’t all that computer savvy.

    I was lukewarm on Vista. It ran fine as long as you gave it at least a gig and a half of memory, and so has served in my living room for three years as my media center PC. It runs 24/7 without issue, and also runs VMware with a Linux guest to provide Apache services, Homeseer for my home automation, uTorrent and a number of other services for the household. Aside from some issues when my video card died, it’s been a workhorse.

    Windows 7, however, runs wonderfully on my laptop which I purchased with a gig of memory (because it came with Vista). I had downgraded to XP because of the performance, but 7 is beautiful. And, the touchscreen on my laptop finally works again (it had Vista-specific drivers, so I lost it when I went XP), and I love it. Touchscreen is the way to go, mice were a wrong path in the evolution of technology and I’m glad to see the industry’s finally realizing what a mistake they were.

    I’m one of those industry people who are saying "MS really got it right with this one."

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  9. 9. ssmith04 12:28 pm 10/23/2009

    No mention of the cost. $120 and up for upgrade from Windows Vista. Seems pretty pricey to me.

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  10. 10. gregwardo 11:39 am 10/24/2009

    Win7 received more universally positive reviews than just about any tech product of the year, and you spelunked the InforWorld review to find some "mixed" comments. Once again SCIAM shows your bias against MS (note the screenshots of web pages in your magazine – virtually 100% of them represent a system with single-digit market share, not the system 90%+ of us use).

    Whatever. In the 30 years or so that I’ve been subscribing, Scientific American has become less like "Nature" and more like Bob Guccione’s "Omni", it’s disappointing.

    Support for touchscreens doesn’t mean the mouse goes away, there are devices where touch will be the primary interaction method.

    This is just bad, biased reporting.

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  11. 11. sharoneden 6:16 am 10/25/2009

    I haven’t had any problems with Vista and enjoy it as an operating system. Am I the only one???

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  12. 12. purewolf386 4:53 pm 10/25/2009

    amdrox at 06:43 PM on 10/22/09
    Haven’t yet had the opportunity to try w7, but hopefully it will eliminate some sluggishness from my computer. 6-minute boots are crap.
    Sounds like you have a LOT of crap starting up during your boot cycle! Go to start and click on run, then type in msconfig.exe you then need to click on startup. You may be surprised at how many things are demanding attention when your first booting up. Click on the box down at the bottom (hide all microcrap… sorry microsoft applications) What ever is left over does not really need to boot right away!

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  13. 13. dennisbuller 7:46 pm 10/25/2009

    I think the touch screen software needs to be seen for what it really will excel at.
    Laptops and netbooks.
    Even though mouses are not built in (they probably should be, i remember some early laptops came with them) most people (including me) are slightly annoyed at the touch control below the keyboard.
    Plus, this will allow for laptops without mechanical keyboards.
    Apple’s I-phone has had great success with just touch a touch screen.
    Even if Windows 7 is good, my next computer will still be a Mac. I am tired of the constant battle to keep my PC relevant. Dell did not even bother to upgrade the bios for Vista let alone 7…..

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  14. 14. just some guy 1:42 pm 10/29/2009

    I have always viewed the Mac OS and computers as being designed for people too stupid to operate a computer. I am disapointed that Microsoft wants to compete for that market of computer users, and that Microsoft is creating a product for everyone to use that is designed for the lowest common denominator. "Touch Screen" computing? Sounds like a "see and say", and probably appeals to the same age group – 3 year olds. I’m sticking with XP – it works, and there is no need to replace something that works with something that gives me the ability to do things I will never want to do.

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  15. 15. just some guy 1:49 pm 10/29/2009

    Touch screen computing – from the people who make a computer for people too stupid to own a real computer. Shame Microsoft is trying to emulate that model. Colour me as one of those still "clinging" to XP – is has always worked, has no problems or limitations and I have no reason to even consider replacing it. When Microsoft stops supporting it, and it becomes obsolete, then it will be time to look into Linux.

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