January 19th, 2009 What’s really new in Windows 7? Posted by Ed Bott @ 3:41 pm
In the past few months, I’ve written extensively about Windows 7, often focusing on a specific set of features or technologies. Inevitably, someone in the Talkback section says I’m dodging the most important question: Is there a single killer feature in Windows 7 that justifies an upgrade, especially for someone who is happy with Windows XP and has chosen to avoid Windows Vista?
The obvious, if oversimplified answer, is “No.” For most mainstream business and home uses, there’s no killer feature in Windows 7. You can rip an MP3 file, edit a Word document, browse the web, read a PDF file, and probably do just about any other common task, especially those involved with basic business functions, with any hardware and any OS from the 21st Century.
But who needs a killer feature? After using several builds of Windows 7 for roughly three months, I can see enormous potential for greater productivity. But before I dive into the list of why I think that’s true, a few caveats:
- Bring an open mind. One refrain I hear regularly from Windows 7 skeptics is that Microsoft is indulging in “change for the sake of change.” But every time I look at a feature that’s been redesigned, I see a reason for it. If you’re willing to try to adapt your behavior, you’ll be more successful.
- There’s a learning curve. If you’re bound and determined to do things the way they’re done in Windows XP, then stick with Windows XP. If you’re deploying Windows 7 in an organization, you’ll need to budget for training. To Microsoft’s credit, they’ve resisted the urge to stuff their new OS with wizards and pop-ups bragging about the new features. The flip side of that bargain is that you’ll need to invest a little effort to find the new stuff.
- One size does not fit all. Microsoft’s Raymond Chen neatly summarized the dilemma of developing for the Windows interface: “No matter what you do, somebody will tell you that you’re an idiot.” If they fail, they create an annoyance, of which Windows 7 still has its share. But hopefully those are fewer and less annoying than they were before.
With that as prologue, here are the five places where I think most users will benefit from Windows 7.