Windows Vista bombed, so Microsoft went back to the old drawing board and cobbled together the current future versions of Windows, which is version 7.
I warned last year that, because Microsoft thinks Vista’s unpopularity was all just a big misunderstanding, and because of the market pressure to get Windows 7 out early, the company might be tempted to just re-release Vista under a new name with minor cosmetic modifications.
In other words, it might be tempted to actually execute on the “Mojave Experiment.” (If you recall, the “Mojave Experiment” was a publicity stunt where Microsoft “punk’d” a bunch of non-users, tricking them into thinking the “future” version of Windows they were testing was actually Folgers Crystals — or something like that.)
So is Windows 7 really “Mojave” — Vista warmed over and sold with a shiny new package? The answer is: sort of.
Windows 7 is far more “different” than I expected, and far better. More important, the user experience will convince users that Windows 7 is a truly new and definitely improved operating system. And best of all, it isn’t new where it counts. It won’t have all the bugs and kinks and driver issues of a truly new OS. Windows 7 is looking like the best of both worlds – it feels new and vastly improved, but it’s built on a solid foundation.
Here’s all the persuasive new goodies that Windows 7 has on offer:
• Windows 7 will offer an “XP Mode” for running your old apps, but it requires 2 GB of RAM and a special CPU with chip-level virtualization. The mode is a downloadable utility available free to people with “Professional,” “Enterprise” or “Ultimate” versions. In other words, XP support goes only to highly motivated, proactive users – which rules out those of us in the media.
• Windows 7 will cripple AutoPlay as one safeguard against malware. Hopefully this feature will be user-configurable for lazy people who like to live dangerously.
• BitLocker Drive Encryption, currently available in high-end versions of Vista, will be extended to USB thumb drives. Nobody will be able to access your PowerPoint files on your sushi-themed thumb-drive – not even you!
• A special netbook-specific edition will be capable of running just three applications at a time. Hmmm. Anti-virus, touchpad utility and back-up scheduler. You’re done! If you want to run apps, you’ll need a second netbook.
• Windows 7 will support a spectacularly wide range of memory limits, from not-nearly-enough to way-more-than-you-could-ever-use. In other words, as little as 1 GB (lower than Vista’s minimum) all the way up to 192 GB (way more than Vista’s maximum), depending, of course, on which editions you choose. All the highest ceilings are for the 64-bit editions.
• Windows 7 will have fewer “User Account Control” prompts – those messages that pop up to get your permission to proceed with installations, configuration changes and so on. Microsoft says this actually boosts security on average, because the Vista prompts were so annoying that users just turned the whole feature off.
• Windows 7 will feature an “Anytime Upgrade” feature, which means you’ll pay for the version of your choice, but lurking deep within are two more versions that you can upgrade to whenever you choose. Users get more choice, and Microsoft can get paid up to three times for the same code. Everybody wins!
• Windows 7 has new default background wallpapers that prove someone at Microsoft has been shrooming. Round-eyed space kittens. Alice In Wonderland nightmares. Flying turtles. And worse. At least it’s not dull.
• Context menus will include a “Play to” feature when you right-click on videos, music and other media files, letting you play them on another PC, Xbox consoles, and DLNA-compatible radios and other devices. Hey, can I play “music” on my neighbor’s stereo when he uses my Wi-Fi network?
The Windows 7 Release Candidate will be available Friday to MSDN and TechNet subscribers, and more widely May 5. Microsoft hopes to get the shipping version out there in time for the holidays. (A popular Windows 7 is definitively what the chip makers, OEMs and electronics superstores want for Christmas.)
So is Windows 7 really Mojave? Who cares? This sucker is looking like a guaranteed win for Microsoft – and Windows users worldwide. It’s about time.
ALSO SEE: Is Windows 7 Really Mojave? (Part 1)