After several false starts and a “train wreck” of a product in Windows Vista, Microsoft finally seems to have launched an operating system that is, to use Bill Gates’ phrase from a recent interview, more “user-centric”.
Illustration: Jayachandran / Mint
Windows 7, the latest avatar of the ubiquitous, much maligned but widely installed operating system, is generally being hailed as a step in the right direction. Reviewers and early adopters admit, some grudgingly, that this latest version, launched on 22 October, is easier to install, hogs less hardware resources and is much more responsive than previous Windows editions.
Clearly, this is the sort of product that Microsoft should have launched in place of the Vista. That unmitigated disaster was launched in January 2007 to widespread disapproval. But this new launch seems to have worked. Windows 7 is the highest grossing pre-ordered product in online retailer Amazon’s history. It even beat the last Harry Potter book in sales, and Windows 7 has had more pre-orders booked in the first 8 hours of launch on Amazon’ UK site than Vista did in its first 17 weeks. According to one analyst, the Window 7 operating system and associated products could help Microsoft generate $320 billion over the product’s life.
Finally, with Windows 7, Microsoft seems to have heeded the message that consumers have been sending out for several years: An operating system should be unobtrusive, light and help you get things done. Users want to send email, browse the Internet, update Twitter and watch movies. Not worry about printer drivers, network protocols, user access controls and, God forbid, service packs and security upgrades. Older versions of the operating system have been notorious for the regular upgrades and updates they required.
Previously, Microsoft’s strategy for every Windows launch was to cram even more heavy, bloated features into the software and hope consumers saw the bright side of it all. Windows 7 should take the company off that strategy for good. Which should come as a relief for the millions of Windows users stuck with the operating system by default. With more and more computer-processing tasks, such as email and word processing, being offloaded to online services, the operating system needs to work more as a quiet enabler behind the scenes. And less as a huge, unruly software Swiss army knife.
And there is one final benefit too. Windows 7 could stimulate some fresh thinking at the offices of competitor Apple Inc. as well. And when those guys start thinking, fun things happen.
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