…Let me explain.
As you probably already know, I currently use Windows XP. It came with my computer when I bought it, and I just didn’t see the incentive to upgrade – what with the horror stories of driver incompatibilities and so forth. Given everything, it just seemed like it was better to wait until the device manufacturers got around to updating their drivers for Vista, and all the dust had settled (and there was a lot of dust, as you’ll recall).
Of course, by the time the dust had settled to my satisfaction, along comes the announcement of Windows 7. And after giving it a try (and having used Vista before as well), I can say that Windows 7 is just what many people say it is – basically, a “Vista Super Service Pack.” Vista 2.0. Vista “as it should have been.”
I mean, I do like some of the features of Vista and Windows 7 – the graphics sure do look nice, and I’d love to have the new Windows Media Center to play with. But Vista had some annoyances (some of which I’ve written about before) that annoyed me just enough to not upgrade.
But Windows 7 does some things to help that (Vista’s first Service Pack did too, to be fair). The improvements to the UAC (user account control) service were long-overdue (and, in my opinion, the problems with it should have been caught in beta testing). Windows 7 is now smart enough to realize when you (the user) actually clicked on something, and not second-guess you and ask you to “please approve what you just did.”
It’s worth noting, of course, that there were probably some BIG technical challenges to this, even though it seems simple (in principle). After all, it is possible to use functions like “SendKeys” and the like to simulate user interactions – and how is the computer supposed to know the difference between a “real” user action and one that was “simulated” by another program? Without a lot of re-working, hacks, and clever tricks, the answer is “it can’t.” But, being difficult isn’t a good enough excuse in this case, and I’m happy to see Microsoft went ahead and did the Right Thing, even though it was hard.
Speaking of the “Right Thing,” that brings me to the new taskbar – a hotly debated topic among Windows 7 reviewers!
The new Windows 7 taskbar is, and will continue to be… controversial. It is, arguably, better than the old taskbar. It is also quite obviously a sort-of-copy of the Mac OS X “dock” – the idea of using the same icons for launching an application and for switching windows. It sounds confusing at first, and honestly, it is. It will take some getting used to.
In a way, though, I think of Windows 7 as being similar to Office 2007 – yes, things look all different, and yes, you’re going to have to learn some things over again, and what you used to have memorized won’t work anymore. But in the end, once you get used to it, you see that it really is better.
I was one of those people who, at first, was really annoyed with Office 2007. But after I got used to it (and as Yoda would say, “unlearned what I had learned”) I found I could find things easier, faster, and do more. I even found things I didn’t know about before. And isn’t that the point?
Likewise with Windows 7. Yes, it’s different, but really, it is better. And after you “unlearn what you have learned,” you’ll find you don’t really have to “learn” anything new, really. It all just makes sense, once you open your mind to it. And that’s a good thing – that’s what “intuitive” is supposed to be like.
An exchange from the movie The Lion King sums it up nicely:
Rafiki: Change is good.
Simba: Yeah, but it’s not easy!
Making the decisions for Windows 7 undoubtedly weren’t easy for Microsoft. But sometimes, you have to make the “hard” decision to do what you know is right (or better), no matter how much people will complain that they can’t get back their classic start menu or whatever. (Coincidentally, although the classic start menu is really gone, most of the things people gripe about – the “run” dialog box and the quick-launch toolbar – are still there; they’re just hidden a bit. But you can bring them back – just do a Google search and you’ll find people telling you how, if you don’t want to change.)
But there are other factors at play here, at least for me. For one, I’m getting ready to upgrade to a 64-bit CPU this year – finally making the jump to the land of 64-bits (which is where we’ll all be, eventually – it’s inevitable). I’ve basically maxed out the RAM that my computer can address, and I still find myself needing more – and the only way to get more than 4GB of RAM is to upgrade to a 64-bit CPU and a 64-bit OS.
So, the move to 64-bits is going to force me to upgrade my OS one way or another – it might as well be to the latest Windows version, right?
Now I just need to wait and see whether an upgrade from XP to Windows 7 will even be supported – because I don’t want to have to do a “clean” install. Here’s hoping!!