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If Joss Wedon was near me, I'd of kicked his ass. --PaulC

Monday, June 29, 2009

Microsoft gives power-users the shaft (again)

Yay! Windows 7 is set for release in 6 brand-new(ly named) flavors! Free upgrades for everybody! Well… Okay, not everybody. Just if you buy Vista between now and October. Cheap upgrades for everybody else! Well… Okay, not everybody. Just the users who are upgrading to Home Premium or Pro. Vista Ultimate users (that’s me), you’re out of luck. Not a smart move on Microsoft’s part.

Here’s my take. I haven’t used Windows 7 yet, but from what I’ve read, the only new feature I’d be getting for my full-priced, 300 dollar upgrade is jump lists. As far as I can tell, Windows 7 is Vista, re-packaged (barely) plus jump lists.

Are jump lists cool? Sure. Am I going to fork out three hundred bones for a novelty feature? Under no circumstances.

Just for reference, here’s Microsoft’s list of “What’s new in Windows 7.” I’m not going to copy and paste the whole what’s new site. You don’t need to wade through all that just to read my comments. I’ll just summarize each bullet.

Desktop: Aero shake, peek, and snap

Okay Aero shake sounds neat, but it’s no faster or more convenient than using the keyboard shortcut that performs essentially the same function. Win+m to minimize or restore every currently open window.

Peek also has an already existing shortcut: Win+d to show my naked desktop, and again to bring all my windows back.

Okay. Snap is actually useful. Quickly snapping windows to convenient sizes is pretty handy. I’ll bet there is also a keyboard shortcut or easy tweak to make Vista do this as well. I just don’t know it.

Gadgets and animated wallpaper

They got rid of Windows sidebar and now all your gadgets just float about on the desktop. Just what every desktop needs: More clutter.

Animated wallpaper isn’t new. Vista has it. If you were really determined, you could even do it with XP. I never did it, but I saw it on the PC of one of my friends in middle school. It was cool then, and it’s cool now. But it’s not new.

Homegroup, “share with” and “read only”

Yeah… We’ve had file sharing since… ethernet? We’ve had file-sharing that works since win2k (maybe even before). The “share with…” context menu was in XP, and the “read only” file attribute has been around long enough that it’s called a file attribute. It’s been part of Windows since ‘98 at the latest. You can call it a “file-type” all you like, but I still know it’s an attribute.

Homegroup sounds like an automatic script that asks you what you want to share and how as part of the network setup wizard. While that script may be new in 7, it’s still just file-sharing.


Jumplists are neat. A jumplist is very basically a mini start menu for every app in your taskbar. The jump list for your web browser might have your ten most visited websites on it, plus a couple you want to have available on-the-fly. Is it cool? Yeah. Will I use it? Probably not after the novelty wears off.

Windows Live Essentials

I am composing this post using Windows Live Essentials. Not new in 7.

Windows Search

I could make an argument for this having been around since 95, but I won’t, because it’s a completely different application with similar purposes. It IS, however, an integral part of Vista. They claim it’s faster in 7. Well, if you don’t have 4 Gb of DDR2 plus another 4 from using a thumb drive with readyboost, maybe windows search 7 will be faster than windows search Vista. But I’ll believe it when somebody else tells me they saw it.

64-bit support

There is a 64-bit version of XP, and a working 64-bit version of Vista. The only (singular) problem I have had with 64-bit Vista is that IE 64 won’t run the netflix movie player. So I have to use the 32-bit edition. Honestly, this OS is a nightmare. I run games as old as… Diablo 2, and I have no compatibility issues. Now if people would start supporting ipv6…

Performance Improvements

Based on reports of what Vista was like on launch, I can’t imagine how anything but improvement would be possible. Based on my experience of how fast Vista runs now, and how much faster I can make it run if I beat it with my admin stick, I say they probably made superfetch a little more efficient, default disabled all those networking and admin services that the average user doesn’t need, and gave Aero a tweak. All the things most Vista Ultimate users can do with their phasers set on tickle.

Power Management

Gets better all the time. I’m sure 7 will have better power management for both laptops and desktops than Vista. I’m also pretty sure Vista users will be able to patch up to the new power saving software once 7 hits SP1.

Easier Wireless Networking

Based on their description, it’s nothing more than “prettier wireless networking.”

Windows Media Center

Every feature listed here is available in the Vista edition of Media Center (not to be confused with media player).

Windows Touch

Admittedly awesome. We first heard about this in connection with the Microsoft table, which was said to begin appearing in bars, restaurants and other commercial venues last November. I saw one in The Day the Earth Stood Still, and they’ve got them on NCIS (I think). Coolest thing to come out of Microsoft since the sound of a hovering AAT in The Phantom Menace. That being said, I’m sticking with my keyboard and trackball until I can afford to throw money at a touchscreen. Even then, I’m still sticking with Tracky and Keeb.

To sum up: Yeah, there are one or two cool, truly new features in Windows 7. And if I could upgrade practically for free like all the average users, I would. But I’m not shelling out three hundred bits of eight for what essentially amounts to conveniences and novelties that I won’t miss.

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