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34 comments

Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

Posted November 03, 2009 12:00 AM by Kaplin

I've been running the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Ultimate for just over 3 months now, since the RTM build was sent to manufacturing. From other reviews and write-ups that I've read, critics' praise for Windows 7 seems to be as high as their disdain for its predecessor, Windows Vista.

Windows Vista 2.0?
The odd thing about the great disparity in reviews for the two operating systems is that their similarities greatly outweigh their differences. For all intents and purposes, Windows 7 could be called Windows Vista 2.0. In many cases, a casual user might not even be able to differentiate whether a PC is running Windows 7 or Vista at first glance. Because of this, Vista users will have no trouble adapting to Windows 7. For those of you still running Windows XP, however, you might have a steeper learning curve for adapting to the new operating system.

Upgrading from Vista or XP
Users who upgrade from Windows Vista won't have any trouble; however, if you're upgrading from XP, you might want to consider a fresh install after backing up and wiping your hard disc.

The main reason critics seem to approve of Windows 7 is that Microsoft's new operating system does fix a lot of Vista's flaws and adds some really cool new features, too. Recently, ETOB posted some of his favorite features in Windows 7. Here are some of mine.

Improved Search
With the improved search capabilities in Windows 7, you simply have to click the start button and begin typing. It can be the name of a program, file, picture, favorite website, or even text within a document. You no longer have to browse through the start menu looking for a seldom-used program, or a directory of folders for that picture of Cousin Jimbo.

Every folder also has a new search box in the upper-right corner with the same functionality. Windows will give preference to results relevant to the folder you're searching from. If you don't see what you're looking for right away, there's a link to a complete search results page.

Smart Taskbar
The new taskbar for Windows 7 is much improved as well. You now have the option for a slightly wider taskbar showing larger icons without the text next to them. Similar programs are still grouped together, but you can now hover over the icon for the program group and a preview of each window will pop up, enabling you to select the one you're looking for much more quickly. (These thumbnails will even display live video running inside a webpage or application.)

The quick launch taskbar has been removed, but you now have the ability to pin your favorite programs to the taskbar, which adds a permanent shortcut to that program. The show desktop button has now become a small area on the right of the bar which you can hover over to turn all programs into transparent outlines, or click to minimize all windows.

Upgraded Media Center
Microsoft has been touting the benefits of its Media Center software for years. It provides the ability to replace your DVR by recording television shows directly to your computer's hard drive and streaming the videos wirelessly throughout your house. Microsoft has also added a Netflix Watch Instantly button to the Movies section of Windows Media Center, enabling streaming from your Netflix account without a browser.

Microsoft Media Foundation
A new backend framework called Microsoft Media Foundation is supposed to be a replacement for the aging DirectShow framework. Although DirectShow is still implemented in Windows 7, the addition of the Media Foundation enables developers to take advantage of a brand new suite of tools.

Windows 7 has only been out for a few weeks, but DivX has released a tech preview of their latest software, which enables MKV support in Media Center. As I posted previously, the fact that MKV files were incompatible with Media Center was a deal breaker for me and forced me to use a Popcorn Hour for video streaming instead of my Xbox 360.

MultiTouch
Although you may not have the hardware to take advantage of it yet, Microsoft has implemented a new MultiTouch control scheme for users who have a MultiTouch Touchscreen Monitor. Touchscreen monitors are just starting to hit mainstream computing, but prices are falling rapidly and they will be common in many households in a few years time.

Have you tried out Windows 7 yet?
Are you planning to upgrade or happy with your current platform?

More Info:
A Clutterbug's Guide to Staying Organized in Windows 7
How to Prep for an XP-to-Windows 7 Upgrade
DivX Plus Tech Preview: MKV on Windows 7

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#1

Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

11/03/2009 8:43 AM

On nearly every benchmark I've run XP64 beats out Win7.

Win7 does handle network connectivity better than XP. Media Center still sucks.

I've also noticed that over the past month, without adding any new software , boot times are getting longer. It started at 23secs and is now over a minute. This on a 4GHz/4GB/4TB/RAID0 system.

7 is pretty but I won't be using it day-to-day until SP1. XP does what I need for now.

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#2
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Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

11/03/2009 3:49 PM

Thanks for the real world information that doesnt come from a paid writer. I always worry that the writer was thinking of his next paycheck more than the content of his writing.

Drew

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#3
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Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

11/03/2009 6:06 PM

To be fair, I'm an engineer at Globalspec and a moderator of CR4, so in a sense I get paid too. We (Kaplin & I) just have different opinions is all.

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#5
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Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

11/03/2009 11:10 PM

How much slack space is available in that 4TB/RAID0?

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#11
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Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

11/04/2009 9:07 AM

Only 600GB is RAID0 (2xVelociraptors). I gave Win7 50GB to play in and it's using about half that with only a few programs installed.

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#14
In reply to #1

Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

11/04/2009 9:59 AM

Your comments on boot times hit home. What I would really like is something like my Palm OS that boots instantly! Linux has the same issues with boot times...

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#4

Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

11/03/2009 10:42 PM

In many ways 7 is a step backwards for me. For example in XP if I want to know what speed the CPU is running at and how much RAM is recognized by the OS it's : start>settings>control panel and the info is there in 3 clicks.

With 7 I just get some arbitrary and useless 'performance index' rated from 1.0 to 7.9

Anyone know how to get CPU speed and RAM available in 7?

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#6
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Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

11/03/2009 11:12 PM

Right click computer and select properties

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#7
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Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

11/04/2009 1:22 AM

I just got my copy of Win7 Ultimate today in the mail and if it's anything like Vista(and i'm preping for install), i'm sure that the same short cut will work for this. XP has a fabulous tool that for some reason, developers decided to hide away in Vista... The "Task Manager" has a performance tab (one of many) which maps out your current usage in real time from the moment the tab is opened... ALT+CNTL+DEL should get you there (if it's the same as Vista) and there should be an option "Start Task Manager"... if not, then you may be able to find it with this improved search that i've read about. I'll check back in a couple days and see if that was helpful or not, if not, then i'll most likely have a better answer for you at that time.

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#9
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Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

11/04/2009 7:55 AM

This is what I'm talking about when I said there was a steeper learning curve for users of XP than users of Vista. Most of the settings are in the same place they were for Vista but will be hard to find for XP users.

I definitely had to google a few things that I couldn't find but once I found them the first time, it was easy after that.

And although it is true that I'm paid to write this blog, It is not by Microsoft or any company who has a vested interest on the content of my review.

As stevem pointed out, a lot of the network connectivity features are part of the reason I like Windows 7. As you can tell from some of my older blogs I'm big on media streaming and although I don't really use the Media Center on my PC, it is accessed through other devices to play content on my PC.

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#18
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Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

11/04/2009 3:18 PM

I found that Vista would automatically function and fulfil tasks instead of the methodical process of manual settings required when using XP, even this low level of intuitiveness is much appreciated.

For this reason I will progress with win7 and take advantage of advanced electronics though one must realize one must use advanced electronics to grasp these advantages.

Machines designed for use of older operating systems may only just get by.

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#20
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Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

11/05/2009 9:53 AM
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#21
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Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

11/05/2009 10:05 AM

Looks pretty cool but my Wife just ordered me the new Popcorn Hour C-200 that I posted about. (Currently back-ordered about one month) I plan on fitting it with a PC Blu-ray drive and internal HDD. (two things it doesn't look like the hisense player can do.) This player is a lot less expensive though.

I am glad to see the hisense player can take advantage of YAMJ. (Yet Another Movie Jukebox) So browsing through my movies looks like this. With all of the movie covers and info being pulled in from IMDB.

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#23
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Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

11/09/2009 9:53 PM

it is possible to access everything you just mentioned faster in 7 than in XP. My advice is try out the universal search in Windows 7. For example, Start > [type in 'control panel']. voila.

Want CPU speed and RAM available in 7? control-shift-escape. brings up task manager. Want something with a prettier interface? Start > [type in 'performance'] and see what comes up.

Sounds like you just need to use 7 more.

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#8

Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

11/04/2009 1:53 AM

I'm just an average user who uses whatever operating system is avaiable. I still have one computer running XP and a couple using Vista. It was a bit of a steep learning curve when I started using Vista but after a few days it was OK.

I have heard a lot of people bagging Vista and I just put it down to having to adapt to the new system, but I have found it OK. We heard the same complaints when we went from Windows 3.1 wi Windows 95. It's just another system and there is no use in trying to feel superior by picking holes in it that the average user doesn't even notice

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#10

Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

11/04/2009 8:40 AM

I just installed 7 pro and have not had much time to try it out yet. I am a former XP user and you are right. Finding what I want is a bit of a hassle. The only reason I moved to the "Latest and Greatest" is my 2 year old 250G hard drive took a dump. I have swapped it out for a 1TB and am anxious to over load it with old vinyl that I am converting to Cd's. Thanks for including the More Info section in you discussion. I plan on checking out the XP to 7 upgrade link.

Again, Thanks

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#12

Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

11/04/2009 9:44 AM

I reccently upgraded from XP pro (32 bit) to 7 pro (64 bit) and it's been my experience that 7 is vastly out-performing my old XP in the tasks I do. Boot up is faster, webpages load faster, and programs run with fewer crashes. My personal "benchmark" (which I freely admit is purely subjective) comes from online gaming. Online games run light years ahead in performance in windows 7 then they did in XP, given the same programs and hardware, not just in data transfer, but also in visual performance.

I only have 2 complaints:

1) The media file structure and its synergy with windows media player is a bit cumbersome

2) The gadgets dont scale very well in size and look pathetic on a high resolution screen.

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#15
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Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

11/04/2009 10:11 AM

I am running Ubuntu 9.04 (32 bit) and Ubuntu 9.10 (64 bit) side by side on the same computer. 9.10 is CONSIDERABLY faster in this machine, but I suspect that is due mostly to the 64 bit instruction set. But, my personal benchmark is Excel working with a .csv file about half a meg. How fast to get to a plot of selected portions of the data. So far, nothing that I have tried beats Excel 2000 running on my Excel 98SE machine. Even running Excel 2000 in XP is slower. Excel 2003 can not even come close in XP or Vista. OpenOffice Calc is slower than molasses in January.

This benchmark is far more important to me than clock speed or industry benchmarks or exotic eye candy, because this is a test from my real world usage. I am sure that if my work consisted of other operations, I would have some other favorite system (i.e., Apple for desktop publishing, Windows for gaming, etc.).

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#19
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Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

11/04/2009 3:22 PM

The calling card of an inadequate graphics engine.

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#13

Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

11/04/2009 9:57 AM

"Multiscreen monitors are just starting to hit mainstream computing..." My first touch screen was an old IBM portable (much, much smaller than today's netbooks) in the early 1990's. I have been using my Palm touchscreen for several years now. But I do not see using it on my desktop or laptop- too inconvenient.

So, I keep reading all the blather about how great the new Windows 7 is, but I have yet to read anything that suggests it will meet my personal needs. So far, no one has given me a reason to upgrade my Windows 98SE to a newer version...

I just bought a new laptop, loaded with Vista. The first thing I did when I turned it on was wipe the hard disk and install Ubuntu. I could not decide from the literature which Ubuntu version to install- 9.04 (more stable) or 9.10 (latest release), so I installed both to give them a try. Try that with Windows...

I have now added Windows 98SE, Windows XP (limited use, because Uncle Bill wants me to ask permission to change computers), and Ubuntu 8.04 running in VirtualBox on the same computer. Try that with Windows.

The Ubuntu installs went flawlessly, no need to search the web for drivers or jump through hoops with exotic authentication schemes requiring entry of 35 digit security codes. It just works.

I do not pretend to believe that this is the solution for everyone. When I first started using Ubuntu, there was a pretty steep learning curve. But, shifting from version to version does not require going back to school to learn the intricacies of the newer systems, and I can "try before I buy"- I would be really frustrated were I to spend $200 on a new operating system only to find out that my favorite applications would no longer function. When I first had a look at upgrading from Windows 98SE to Windows XP a few years back, I calculated that I would need $7000 just in software upgrades to maintain the functionality of the old 98SE system- a system that cost me considerably less in hardware to implement.

I do a it of signal analysis, CAD and FEA analysis, and the primary reason for buying the new computer was that, the last FEA I did took about 12 hours to run. The best signal analysis program I have found is AutoSignal, and that runs fine on XP. The FEA package I am using is Salome-MECA, OpenSource and packaged with Ubuntu 8.04 (which won't run on my new computer due to graphics issues). OpenSource does not have a decent CAD suite, unfortunately, and no one has yet come up with anything even close to the capabilities of MS Excel, so I still have need for my legacy Windows systems.

You Windows gurus out there, please tell me why Windows 7 is worth trying! An operating system should just sit in the background doing its thing without requiring a whole lot of maintenance attention, while I get on with the real work at hand.

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#16
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Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

11/04/2009 10:32 AM

You may benefit from moving to a 64bit OS (whether XP, Win7 or Ubuntu) simply because it is able to address significantly more RAM. If your calculations are using the hard drive at all for memory keep in mind that access time to RAM is six orders of magnitude faster than hard disk.

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#17
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Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

11/04/2009 11:20 AM

Stevem-

ABSOLUTELY! RAM is the critical issue here- My new laptop only has 3 meg, to be upgraded to 8 meg as soon as I can find a source for it- mostly for my more critical applications like FEA (remember back in the days when 64k was considered sufficient?). However, I do not believe this is going to have much noticeable effect on my Excel/98 SE benchmark test, mostly because I don't have the capability to do an analysis at the millisecond level. This is actually a very critical test for me- get a quick view of the data before I start investing too much time in more in-depth analysis.

With regards to CAD, I do not use AutoCAD or SolidWorks because:

1. My CAD work does not generate sufficient revenue to justify the investment

2. I do not do enough CAD work to become really proficient with these packages. I prefer something simpler, like TurboAD or DoubleCAD. Unfortunately, Linux is rather barren when it comes to a decent CAD package...

If all I was doing with my computer was surfing the net or watching movies or listening to music, it is unlikely I would find the old 98SE machine very useful. If video were a critical aspect of my computer usage, I most likely would not be using Linux, because Adobe Flash is too important these days.

But, when I look at the direction of the MS mavens, I get the distinct impression they have no idea of what users want or need, and they could care less about my opinion. In the OpenSource environment, there are people out there that are really interested in how I use my computer, and willing to help make the use more efficient (not always at no cost). THIS is how support should be! What I get from MS is typically, "Thank you for contacting us. We have no solution for you."

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#22
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Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

11/05/2009 12:33 PM

This will come as no shock—Win7 wasn't made for you; you may sit this one out too.

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#24

Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

01/19/2010 2:04 PM

My personal take on Windows 7.

First of all, I've been playing with computers since the mid-80s, and I've used just about every OS there is. I am retired for now, and all I use my computers for these days is writing, surfing, playing and downloading movies.

I downloaded the beta of Vista back in late '05 for my first 64 bit machine. It was horrible. After a week of just trying to find my way around, I gave up and went back to XP Pro, which I stuck with until the advent of W7.

I downloaded the first beta of W7 last January. The first thing I noticed about it was that device drivers were no problem at all. All of the Vista drivers worked perfectly. The second thing was that the OS was very easy to learn. For the most part, if you want to do something or change something, you simply right-click. Want to change your task bar appearance? Just right click on it.

The point here being that Windows 7 was as easy to learn as Vista was difficult.

Furthermore, I've had no trouble finding anything I needed to run in it. Most of my XP Pro stuff runs on it just fine and even some of my old 98SE stuff. It's been stable and pretty much glitch free since the beginning. It's lighter, faster and a heck of a lot easier to find your way around in than any version of Vista I've tried yet. And, the Aero desktop environment is just beautiful.

Last week I was able to find a pair of full retail Windows 7 Home Premium discs on eBay for a mere $20. I was able to get the keys also for about $10 each. In the last few days I have loaded it onto my recently acquired T61 (64 bit) and my nearly 4 year old Inspiron e1505 (32bit) with zero hassle or drama, even though W7 is not supported by Dell on the e1505. Over the next few days I will be installing it on three more machines and expect no more trouble than that.

So yes, I suppose that you could say that 7 is just an upgrade of Vista. But I suppose we could also say that XP was just an upgrade of ME. It is in fact everything that Vista should have been in the first place, and quite possibly the best Windows ever.

Now there is one very important thing to consider, and that is that the computing world is going through a major change as we switch from 32bit to 64bit hardware, just as we did in the late 80s going from 16bit to 32 bit and as we will one day switch from 64bit to 128bit. Windows 7 was designed from the ground up to be a 64bit OS, where XP Pro was conceived from it's beginnings as a 32bit OS. Over the next few years, XP will become less and less useful until finally it will fade away. Windows 7, like it or not, is the future. At least in the Windows world.

It's all good to talk about how great the old stuff was, and I love old things. But, to stay competitive, indeed to stay alive, we must embrace the new. Lest we become dinosaurs ourselves.

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#25
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Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

01/19/2010 2:24 PM

Dr. Moose-

Remember this- not all dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago. The smart ones just got a whole lot smaller and learned how to fly, and currently most likely outnumber us humans (at least for now...)

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#26
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Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

01/19/2010 2:30 PM

Absolutely true sir. However! The survived by embracing new things. And, they are no longer the dominant species on this rock!

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#27
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Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

01/19/2010 3:19 PM

How many times can MS shoot themselves in the foot before they die from gangrene?

128 bit is not inevitable, I don't remember listening to quadrophonic vinyl for many years Though there are many similar surround sound systems these days

Smart handheld devices are more likely to dominate.

Google, Apple & others will probably be developing the operating systems of the future.

What is the next step beyond a couple of twisted pairs [ethernet]?

What business applications require the bells & whistles offered by 7?

There needs to be significant value added before large numbers of businesses will make the change.

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#28
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Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

01/19/2010 4:12 PM

Who can honestly say what the future will hold? I certainly cannot. When I say that 128bit is inevitable, I say so simply because we started with 8bit, then went to 16bit and then 32bit and now 64bit. I admit that there are some interesting possibilities that may short circuit this.

One possibility is quantum computers, in which, apparently, there can be four states to a discrete unit of data, instead of just two as we have now. I suppose instead of a bit it will be called a "quad". Hmmm... It would appear that once again technology is mirroring StarTrek.

Another possibility is organic computers, which would have a three dimensional matrix instead of the present 2D matrix. Who knows where that could lead?

As for handheld devices, I think that the logical procession will be to implanted interfaces that will allow us to interact directly, mind to machine, with more and more powerful desktop/mainframe devices. Furthermore, implanted computing and memory devices open up all kinds of possibilities. And so obviously, the next step beyond ethernet is the further development of wireless.

Apple already makes a superb OS. OSX.5/6 is already the most stable, glitch-free and user-friendly OS available. I don't know about Google, but I didn't much like Chrome. However, if any of the above mentioned technologies come to pass, obviously they will need totally new operating systems.

As to what makes Windows 7 essential to business, as yet, absolutely nothing. Many businesses will stay with XP for a considerable while to come, just as many businesses stayed with 98SE for years. But, any such remaining in the Windows world will eventually have to switch to W7 as XP becomes less and less capable of dealing with new requirements.

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#29
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Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

01/19/2010 6:01 PM

Y2k pushed many businesses to upgrade ahead of schedule.

When you get to xp you can run a decent powerpoint, keep track of inventory, email, all the basic stuff...

The persistent bad press from vista is going to make 7 a harder sell.

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#30

Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

01/19/2010 6:12 PM

It is very unlikely that I will ever have a look at Windows 7 voluntarily. I was disappointed with XP, although I do use it a bit where I have to. Vista, in the beginning, was such a boated joke, that MS drove me to try out Linux. Linux meets my needs- why would I change back to Windows? It really doesn't matter to me how good Windows 7 might be- I am happy with the alternative I have found. MS has demonstrated to me that they are totally out of touch with reality. Give me something shockingly, radically different that can do useful things faster than my current system (and function on older hardware), and you might get my interest. Don't try to impress me with flash and eye candy- such packaging does nothing for the utility of the package (and it is easy to emulate in other operating systems, if you want it).

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#31
In reply to #30

Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

01/19/2010 8:00 PM

All I want is plain language.

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#32
In reply to #31

Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

01/19/2010 8:06 PM

Does the mac speak or respond to plain language?

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#33
In reply to #32

Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

01/19/2010 9:29 PM

Actually, not in my opinion.

Major advantage seems so far that it keeps running regardless of my abuse.

As many now know these things are nothing more than typewriters to me.

In the past somewhere in similar discussions I think I may have written out in simple language, what I though a good simple plain language set of choices for functions and actions would work for me, and hopefully others.

In my latest instance of failures, well where are the simple instructions right there on the keyboard screen to reduced file size?

If JPEG is so common, how come Craigslist won't put through what its parameters put out?

How come if I actually am limited to low resolution transmission the choice isn't right there somewhere more easily accessed and not requiring the download of some other program?

In the past I have also said that Text Edit for writing sucks.

Windows 98 from MS, actually worked and was understandable to me.

What I wrote, actually would come out printed looking like what I saw when I wrote it.

My ignorance is of course a factor, and I am willing to expose all my failures in this area, for while I may well have cause for pride in some areas, this area of computer science and the combining of software and hardware to achieve what you want to do, or need to do, isn't one.

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#34
In reply to #33

Re: Is Windows 7 Really Just Vista 2.0?

01/19/2010 10:52 PM

I hadn't really considered your problems with the mac text editor

There is the Open Office solution. You should be comfortable, looks like windows word stuff. The link is for the mac version.

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