Campbell: Windows 7 just another Windows Vista?

By Donald Campbell

Windows 7 has been released, and while it has received generally positive reviews, signs of its… Windows 7 has been released, and while it has received generally positive reviews, signs of its fallibility are reaching the Internet, much to the detriment of Microsoft and its ongoing operating system reputation.

Although the quality of Windows 7 is arguably superior to that of both Windows XP and Windows Vista, Microsoft might find itself wrangling with public relations and advertising problems if the quirks of Windows 7 continue — or increase — in frequency.

The sad part is that Microsoft’s problems are likely undeserved.

A series of articles on described a rebooting problem in the install and upgrade process of Windows 7. The reports also recommended that users who have working systems should take heed of the old adage, “don’t screw with it” and delay upgrading.

Computerworld gave users tips on making Windows XP “last for the next seven years.”

Because this article was juxtaposed to the previous two, it is reasonable to think that Computerworld hints that a Windows 7 upgrade might be detrimental.

The good news for Microsoft? Windows 7 appears to have ducked the minor upgrade problems that plagued Vista.

For example, fewer people have reported “catastrophic irritation syndrome,” which was endemic in Vista, because of Vista’s incessant prompts for security escalations.

Microsoft has also fielded fewer calls regarding driver difficulties and program compatibility issues under Windows 7.

The bad news for Microsoft? The first major problem many users have experienced is a little more fundamental: They cannot install the Windows 7 upgrade at all.

Some users have experienced a “constant reboot” problem where the installation process freezes around two-thirds of the way through and reboots the system — endlessly.

Microsoft engineers have also failed to deliver a quick and, more importantly, near-universal remedy for this problem.

Microsoft might think that the sum of Windows 7’s gains over Vista and the overall infrequency of its one problem might add up to a positive.

The general support request traffic, as Computerworld cites, is much lower than when Vista emerged.

This undoubtedly makes Microsoft think that its Windows 7 operating system will become much more popular and more respected than the failed Vista.

Microsoft has recently had problems and has immediately pushed its way squarely onto users’ bad sides. Reports of the reboot problem might very well pose a problem for Microsoft’s public relations.

Microsoft might therefore face a problem of having many people turn — perhaps irrationally — against Windows 7, as many reacted adversely to Vistat’s slight annoyances.

Windows 7 might be plagued by thinking similarly to that of the company featured in Gregg Keizer’s article, “Users should delay Windows 7 upgrade, support firm warns.”

The article describes the company’s assertion that upgrading to Windows 7 could pose problems with data retention, as well as hardware compatibility and software stability.

Users, according to the company, should therefore continue to use their old operating systems until the upgrade process for Windows 7 has aged and become more predictable.

What will Microsoft do if reports of its reboot problem become more frequent and Windows 7 begins to scare away potential customers who fear a constant reboot might lock their machines?

Could this mean that Windows 7 will go the way of Vista — wherein users who never tried the operating system will assert that Windows 7 is not worth the upgrade and will therefore never buy it?

Users should remember that both Linux and Macintosh OS X, the standard alternatives to Microsoft Windows, have also experienced, and will more than likely continue to experience, upgrade problems.

Macintosh OS X recently experienced a non-zero population of programs that failed to install and run properly when users upgraded to the most recent edition.

Microsoft — as little as many of us want to admit it — might need to be cut some slack.

Although the article describing the reasons to delay an upgrade might be accurate for users who rarely back up their information or cannot afford temporary disruptions in computer service, upgrading for the rest of us is not really that dangerous.