Windows 7: Oops! Microsoft did it again!

My initial evaluation of Windows 7 shows that it's really just Vista with a fresh coat of paint

I have seen the future, and it is bleak. Windows 7, the next big version, the one that was supposed to fix everything that was wrong with Vista, is here (at least in pre-beta form), and I can now say -- with some confidence -- that Microsoft has once again dropped the ball.

[ Find out how Windows 7 compares with Mac OS X Snow Leopard. | Randall C. Kennedy has serious qualms on Windows 7, but Tom Yager argues that Windows 7 atones for many Vista sins. Who's right? ]

Based on what I saw in today's keynote speech, and on what I discovered while testing the Windows 7 M3 build during some down time this afternoon, Windows 7 is:

  1. Just as slow as Vista. In fact, Windows 7's performance is virtually identical to that of Vista SP1 on the same hardware. If you were unhappy with Vista's CPU-hogging, memory-sucking ways, Windows 7 will provide little relief. And don't start with the whole "it's still in beta" crap. This is NO beta – at least not at a kernel-mode level. As I predicted months ago, Windows 7 is very much Windows Vista "R2" under the covers. Microsoft established its platform baseline with the SP1/2008 kernel and nothing significant has changed since, nor is anything likely to change before RTM. This is the reality we face. Get used to it.

  2. Just as consumer-focused as Vista. Home Groups. Media Sharing. Federated Search. All very cool. All very slick. And all very much irrelevant to the enterprise desktop customer (though the Search stuff might be useful in certain scenarios). In fact, from what I can see with the M3 build, there's virtually nothing new here that would address the very real migration concerns that have stalled Vista's deployment among larger Windows shops. I was looking for a "mea culpa" and some solid integration tools and compatibility features. What I got was a prettier GUI and new ways to share music with my dog. Ugh!

  3. Just as confusing as Vista. Microsoft has once again moved stuff around in the UI. After baffling its loyal users by completely upending the XP UI, Microsoft has decided that it wasn't satisfied with the end result. So it started moving stuff, with the Control Panel taking the brunt of the abuse. Need to add a printer? Welcome to the new "Devices and Printers" applet! Looking for the "System and Maintenance" subgroup? It now has a new name: "System and Security." And can you guess where the Security subgroup went? No? Then it's time for some retraining!

Overall, I'm extremely disappointed with Windows 7. Far from atoning for Vista's sins, Windows 7 simply carries them forward, visiting them upon yet another generation. All of which makes me even more convinced that I was really on to something last summer when I posed the question: Is it finally time to cut and run?

Maybe. Maybe not. But one thing's for sure: Windows 7 is no panacea. Rather, it's just more of the same: slow, bloated, and frustrating as hell.

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