"Tarnish" -- it's one of those words that IT journalists like to use when a particular industry luminary gets soiled by bad news or a product release blunder.
Most recently, the term has been applied to Microsoft -- as in, "can Apple tarnish Windows 7" by seizing on the bad taste left over from Windows Vista. Some pundits are arguing that yes they can -- that Apple might seize up to 30 percent of the market as a result of all of the bad press surrounding Vista's failure and now the rocky Windows 7 upgrade path faced by XP users.
[ Get the full scoop on the new Mac OS X Snow Leopard in InfoWorld's preview. | Compare Windows 7 and Mac OS X head to head in our slideshow. | See if Windows 7 atones for Vista's sins in the Test Center's Windows 7 RTM review. ]
With all due respect to the industry quacks (such as the guy who once predicted that Windows CE-based terminal devices would rule the world) who postulate such nonsense, it just ain't gonna happen. Microsoft's Windows distribution franchise is a well-oiled machine, honed to near perfection during years of industry dominance. Windows Vista was an aberration -- a bit of gunk in the gears that slowed the machine down for a bit but that now has been cleared away with Windows 7.
By all accounts (including my own), Windows 7 is what Vista should have been: a solid, stable successor to Windows XP that improves on its predecessor and matches up well with the current state of the PC hardware ecosystem. That Windows 7 was released to beta late in its development cycle, with much of the core plumbing work already fully baked, was a good thing. It has allowed system manufacturers to fully vet the new OS and to ensure that their customers have a positive initial experience with the myriad Windows 7 solutions that will be coming down the pike in the third and fourth quarters of this year.
And make no mistake: The solutions are coming, in all shapes, sizes, and price points. In fact, the Windows 7 launch may turn out to be the biggest synchronized hardware/software platform refresh push in the history of computing. Microsoft will be pulling out all the stops with this one, and the resulting tidal wave of Windows 7 products and services will drown out the posturing and tired rhetoric of the Apple camp.