The PC World challenge: 72 hours of Windows 7!

The challenge: switch from Windows Vista to Windows 7 completely.

The Verdict

I phrase that last paragraph as I do, because it relates to my ultimate point. As it stands, Windows 7 is not a new operating system. It's SP2. Rightly, it's what Vista should have been, but I'm willing to compromise on this just existing as a significant, service-pack-worthy upgrade to the core Vista OS. A mainstay of the new experiences you will actually encounter are cosmetic in design or function: the new desktop functions are pretty, Windows gadgets are an exploded version of the Vista sidebar, Homegroup is just a rebranded way to set up network sharing, the Taskbar uses icons instead of icons and words, et cetera.

Truly novel innovations: an extensive Firewall system, a brand-new Backup and Restore tool that would actually keep me from buying an off-the-shelf solution, PC Safeguard... these are all neat applications. At its core, I really like the direction Microsoft has gone with Windows 7. There's no question in my mind about that.

But as a paying customer, I have to ask myself: when this OS hits the market, is there enough packed in there to warrant its $125 price (or thereabouts)? From XP to Vista, I definitely pulled the trigger and didn't look back. I don't believe that, at this stage in the game, the pretty functionality and intriguing applications are worth the eventual cost. I can mimic a lot of Windows 7's new functionality with common freeware applications. And while the graphics are pretty, I'm not about to shell out a ton of cash just so I can shift around my desktop windows and giggle.

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(To be fair, the new graphical elements like full Window transparency just by hovering your mouse over "Show Desktop" make up some awesome features.)

Had Microsoft the gall, it would release Windows 7 as a free upgrade for Windows Vista users. It's not going to, nor can I see the software giant doing anything but slapping a standard pricing model on this "brand-new" OS. It'll be curious to see what this does to Vista support, given the inherent similarity between the two platforms. I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft officially killed Vista development and made Windows 7 its default, go-to operating system. Sounds crazy? Eh. So is the hype around this operating system.

As for me? I think I'll go back to Vista for now...

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David Murphy

PC World (US online)
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