As 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