Happy Windows 7 day! The long-awaited operating system finally arrives Thursday. Unless you scored a Windows 7 free upgrade or plan to go PC shopping soon, the new software will cost a pretty penny (up to $319 for the "Ultimate" edition). So, is Windows 7 worth it? Here's what the early reviews say:
Better than Vista?
Most reviewers made the inevitable comparison to Microsoft's last operating system, Vista, which was widely considered a dud. And, most reviewers were happy to announce that Windows 7 is a big improvement over its predecessor. "The first thing you'll notice about Windows 7 is that it looks like Vista," writes the Guardian. "It also works like Vista, in the sense that it has the same plumbing underneath, except for a very welcome graphics upgrade to DX11. However, it works much better than Vista, and most of Vista's annoyances have either been removed, or (mostly) can be changed so the system works the way you like. It takes personalisation to extremes."
"Windows 7 introduces real advances in organizing your programs and files, arranging your taskbar and desktop, and quickly viewing and launching the page or document you want, when you want it," says The Wall Street Journal. "It also has cool built-in touch-screen features. It removes a lot of clutter. And it mostly banishes Vista’s main flaws—sluggishness; incompatibility with third-party software and hardware; heavy hardware requirements; and constant, annoying security warnings."
"Windows 7 feels faster than Windows XP and Vista, but it turns out that's not always the case--sometimes, it's the slowest out of the three operating systems," reports CNET. "As you can see in the chart, we found that Windows 7 RTM was the fastest to shutdown, and was tied with XP for iTunes encoding. However, it was slower than XP and Vista for both booting up cold by a bit more than 1 second, and slower than either of its predecessors in its Microsoft Office performance."
Compatibility with old software and hardware
Engadget maintains a Windows 7 upgrade guide, but in their review they say that "anything we found to work in Vista seemed to work just fine (in some cases better!) in Windows 7. That goes for hardware and software, but of course the real test will be when this OS is unleashed upon the masses -- your mom's brother's 25 year old printer might not make the cut, and we'll be sure to pour out a 40 upon its behalf. In truth, Microsoft does a very good job with keeping a truly insane quantity of hardware and drivers and vendors happy, but we still think they could do better."
Where are the programs?
"Out of fear of antitrust headaches, Microsoft has stripped Windows 7 of some important accessory programs," writes the NYTimes. "Believe it or not, software for managing photos, editing videos, reading PDF documents, maintaining a calendar, managing addresses, chatting online or writing e-mail doesn’t come with Windows 7.... Instead, you’re supposed to download these free apps yourself from a Microsoft Web site. It’s not a huge deal; some companies, including Dell, plan to preinstall them on new computers. But a lot of people will be in for some serious confusion — especially when they discover that the Windows 7 installer has deleted their existing Vista copies of Windows Mail, Movie Maker, Calendar, Contacts and Photo Gallery. (Mercifully, it preserves your data.)"
The final word
"Windows XP was a great OS in its day. Windows Vista, once it found its feet several months in, was a good OS. With Windows 7, the OS is great again," concludes Gizmodo. "It's what people said they wanted out of Windows: Solid, more nimble and the easiest, prettiest Windows yet. There's always a chance this won't be a huge hit come October, given the economy and the state of the PC industry, but it's exactly what Microsoft needs right now. Something people can grab without fear."