Forget Windows 8: Give us Windows 7.8

A billion users don't have the right hardware to run Windows 8, even if they wanted to. Here's how Microsoft could give them the best of Win8

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Integrated Hyper-V with licenses for WinXP and Win7.8
Even if the only use for Win7.8 Hyper-V were to get rid of that blasted Windows XP Mode in Windows 7 Pro, it would pay for itself a thousand times over.

The Windows 8 Hyper-V client (which only works on 64-bit versions of Win8 Pro and Enterprise) finally makes it possible to run virtual PCs inside Windows, without resorting to third-party applications.

Why do ordinary Windows 7 users need Hyper-V? For XP Mode, of course, but also for cordoning off company applications on a personally owned PC or trying new things that may cause Windows to go kaboom. If a user's experimentation goes awry on a virtual machine, just shut it down and start all over again.

In Windows 7.8, Hyper-V would certainly be a boon for Pro and Enterprise users, and it might even be useful for Home Premium. In any case, including a license for Windows XP and a license for Windows 7.8 would go a long way toward helping perplexed XP Mode users and inquisitive enthusiasts keep their PCs working for the long haul.

File History
Windows 7 already has a Shadow Copy capability, which keeps snapshots of files, maintaining multiple copies of a single file as it changes over time. The main problem? Nobody knows it exists.

Windows 8 brings three big contributions to file versioning.

  1. Admittedly a trivial enhancement, the snapshots are taken once an hour in Win8 instead of once a day, the default in Win7.
  2. Win7 backs up entire disks by default, and the shadow copies are generally stored on the same disk. Win8 takes snapshots of libraries, the Desktop, IE favorites, and contacts by default, and it requires a second disk or network location for storing the backups (they're safe if the original disk goes kaboom, unlike the case of Shadow Copy).
  3. The user interface for recovering a file with Win8 File History, which lets users march through backups by date and time, and drill down on location, is vastly superior to the UI for Win7's backups, which relies on a Spartan File History tab.

Although it's possible to make Win7 shadow copies work more or less like Win8's File History -- the underlying technology hasn't changed -- I believe most Windows 7 users (and admins) would pay to port the Win8 defaults and interface to Windows 7.8.

Windows 8's File History makes backup and recovery of files and file versions really easy
Windows 8's File History makes backup and recovery of files and file versions really easy.
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