Windows is the world’s most commonly used operating system for personal computers. It has over 90 percent of the global market. It is also not a popular operating system. The reason for that oxymoron actually being true is that for a long time Microsoft has been releasing so-so versions of Windows that lack stability and speed, or indeed the panache of apple’s Mac OS X. Windows XP is solid but outdated, and Windows Vista was a barely adequate OS that lacked many features it was originally supposed to have.
t was also incompatible with many peripherals and was slow and took up massive amounts of RAM. People only continued to use Windows because they were dependent on it and the applications available for it, not because they liked it. This seems to be the case especially under the rather funny leadership of Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates having retired from active involvement in Microsoft some years ago.
Windows 7 is supposed to change all that. Windows 7 comes just three years after the ill-fated Windows Vista, and is based on the same code-base but it attempting to overcome the many flaws that Windows Vista had. In effect, the mission of Windows 7 is to be everything that Windows Vista should have been, and then some. There have been many previews of Windows 7 and there has been a public beta as well which raised expectations and garnered many positive previews. RC2 has been getting plaudits all around. Now some reviews have come out and they also seem to be very positive. The verdict is unanimous, Windows 7 is an excellent operating system and apple should be worried as Microsoft gets much closer in terms of quality. Sites that have posted a review of Windows 7 include Gizmodo, Engadget, The Wall Street Journal, and Paul Thurott’s WinSupersite. Many have even posted comparisons to Mac OS X. Windows 7 versus Snow Leopard articles have been quite common and are certainly fuel for debate!
Installation and start-up and shutdown functions are all very fast, though not quite as fast as Mac OS Snow Leopard. Netbooks show real performance gains and are much faster than the sluggish Vista. However performance is not very much better than Vista on most desktop computers. It is still quite brisk and a welcome change. Windows 7 is also very stable and can be left on for many days at a time without crashing. Windows 7 also happens to be much more resistant to viruses and malware than its predecessor, something that many frustrated users will welcome.
Windows 7 also has many UI enhancements that greatly improves the usability of Windows. The Aero user interface theme is back and is 3D accelerated as it was in Windows Vista. All the eye-candy and superior graphics and transition animations, not to mention translucency, are intact. Furthermore the new task-bar takes many ideas from apple OS X Dock, and is much more usable as a result. In fact in some ways it beats Apple’s dock. For example the Aero Peek feature is a natural way to see the open windows of an application in an instant that is as good as the Expose view built into Snow Leopard’s Dock. Windows does not have a “spaces” feature yet though, and even Linux has a spaces feature. Another excellent user-interface feature that Windows 7 has is called “snap”. Windows automatically snap to half the screen’s size and into one half of the screen when dragged into the horizontal edges of the screen. This is very convenient if you want to have two pages open side by side for comparison.
Old features like instant search are also back and as useful as ever. The start menu and quick preview features are also greatly improved, as are the multimedia streaming capabilities. Windows Media Player and several other built in applications have also been improved, though some applications have been removed, though they can be downloaded for free from the Internet, some of the omissions include quite basic applications such as the mail application. These omissions are a negative in my view. Networking and setting up Windows work-groups is also much easier and faster. The only major issue with this release of Windows is that Microsoft has provided many SKUs or “editions” again, with the more complete ones being quite expensive. This adds confusion and cost to windows 7 that is absent from the comparable Mac OS X Snow Leopard. In general the omitted applications can be had from Microsoft’s Windows Live service, and the main editions are: Starter, Home-Basic, Home-premium, Professional, Enterprise, Ultimate.
Overall there is no doubt that Windows 7 is a solid and easy to use OS, but is it finally superior vs. Mac OS Snow Leopard? That is something for the many fan-boys across the Internet to debate!