Windows 7: The State of the Beta

By  |  Wednesday, March 11, 2009 at 9:45 pm

The Bottom Line and Verbatim Feedback

By this point, it shouldn’t come as a stunner that when we asked survey respondents to tell us their overall impression of the beta, it was favorable. Fifty-one percent said they’re extremely impressed, and eighty-six percent were at least somewhat impressed. Only five percent were unimpressed. And ten percent say they’re neutral.

It’s possible, of course, to be impressed with a beta but still a conservative type who’ll wait before jumping to an OS upgrade. That’s reflected in respondents’ current thinking on when and if they’ll move to Windows 7. Forty-three percent say they’ll do it as soon as possible; 61 percent say they’ll do it immediately or quickly; 11 percent said they’ll get it on a new PC. Six percent say they’ll do it after the first round of bug fixes (which is arguably the most sensible time to make the leap, even if you think Windows 7 looks promising). And if there are any true XP deadenders left out there, they apparently didn’t take our survey: Only 2.5 percent of respondents said they plan to stick with an earlier version of Windows.

We also gave respondents the opportunity to share their open-ended thoughts on the beta. And dozens of them, offering lots of praise, some criticisms, and a few mixed reports.

Verbatim Comments: Applause

“A polished, easy to use Vista. I enjoy using it. If Media Player 12 properly shared media with my Xbox 360, I would never use Vista on that PC again. Still use Vista on my laptop and wife’s PC until W7 goes final. I disagree with most of the negative posts about W7.”

“Windows 7 is so much more intuitive than Vista.”

“I was generally shocked how everything – EVERYTHING – worked right out of the gate following the upgrade. Especially doing an upgrade OVER Vista. (Granted it was only a month-old HP laptop, so there was little risk). Still, having installed so many other Microsoft betas and RC’s over the years, I was still shocked. No scrambling for drivers, ‘gee my sound doesn’t work’, hung installations, etc. Nothing. I really hope this is a sign of a turnaround in Microsoft.”

“My dual-boot with Vista and Windows 7 on my laptop lasted for all of five days. Then I completely wiped the HDD and did a clean install of Window 7 as the only OS. I have been running it for around 12 hours a day, 5 days a week without any major issues at all. In my opinion, Windows 7 is what Vista should have been in the first place.”

“The ability to run on older hardware was something I wanted to try. I have an AMD Athlon 64 4200+ dual core system with 3 gigs of ram. According to Microsoft’s hardware guide for Vista, my system could only run Vista Basic. My system has been able to run win 7 very well. The install went pretty smoothly. I had more problems with doing the dual boot partitioning. The one program I haven’t been able to install is Adobe Premiere Pro 1.5 or Photoshop 7.”

“I liked Windows 7 so much that I am running it on my home system. I almost never install a beta OS for my home system, but in this case I felt comfortable enough to do it. I am an Enterprise Admin and I will be installing on my office PC as soon as it is released. I was running Windows XP and had no plans to upgrade to Vista, but when Windows 7 is released I will be buying it!”

“This is what Vista should have been, and I liked Vista. With Windows 7, Microsoft raises the bar in user experience on other operating systems the same way Office 2007 raised the experience bar with office suites. And it runs beautifully on a first generation HP Mininote with a Via C7 processor. EPIC WIN.”

“I am amazed at the stability of Win 7. All of the crashes I have had were because of a bad driver that ATI released. An update fixed it simply.”

“Windows 7 is what Vista should have been – great security features, good performance even on marginal hardware, and doesn’t get in the way of doing what it is I use a computer for. I will probably recommend Win7 to family and friends as the pros far outweigh the learning curve they’ll have, which I could not say for Vista.”

“Glad I stayed with XP. Now I can skip over Vista and enjoy Windows 7 when it comes. The Media Center library capabilities along with upgrades to the Xbox media center extender make VMC/Xbox THE home digital media solution for the connected home/family.”

“I’ve done my fair share of criticizing Microsoft, but I think they got a winner here. If they price this right ($50 – $99), I’m fairly sure they’ll get consumers to upgrade. I’m also the CIO of a firm with roughly 2000 PCs and laptops. Based on our preliminary application testing with 500+ applications, we’re going to skip Vista and deploy Win7 within a year of it’s release. Even if SP1 isn’t out yet… Living on the (bleeding) edge.”

“I was extremely unsatisfied with Vista’s performance, ressource hungriness and never installed it as a production system for more than some weeks, always went back to XP. Now I have all my machines running with Win7 – at Beta 1 stage! This OS will rock and be THE successor of XP. Forget Vista.”

“Win 7 just works better than Vista or XP for me. I’m amazed to find this in a Beta, and am excited about Windows again.”

Verbatim Comments: Criticisms

“I’m impressed by the polish and stability of Win 7 at this point. However, there’s still a lot of windows legacy stuff (including 32-bit support) that I wish Microsoft had killed off. And installing a network printer is still a strange black art.”

“On my system the shutdown button does not work. It simply hangs the computer. Using the NMI to force shutdown still doesn’t shut the computer down. It simply gives a screen full of garbage. In order to shut down I have to remove power.”

“Windows 7 does some things right but it does a lot more wrong. The #1 worst thing with Windows 7 is the libraries feature. It is so overly implemented that it consumes the computer. It is in the start menu and takes over the users documents. If you pin a folder to the taskbar it instead links to libraries. Jump lists are simply lame and remove the normal functionality of right clicking on an icon. I will upgrade to Windows 7 but only because I am sick of Windows Vista and I use applications that won’t run on Linux.”

“I tried the Windows 7 beta to really compare and see what Microsoft had coming. I know it’s beta and didn’t hold any bugs against it (I didn’t have any problems). I did however find the system clunky and unintuitive compared to the Mac OS. This could be years of Mac use, but the simple things that people in the press and blogs have been raving over, I just don’t see. My biggest problem in my limited use is the look of the system. The Mac looks polished, smooth and not bitmapped. Windows 7 looks like something out of the mid 90’s with lots of transparency thrown in to try and make it modern.”

“Price is going to be a major consideration with Windows 7. Microsoft is shedding jobs, outsourcing, and contributing to a falling economy. At the same time, they still think their software is worth premium prices. Vista proves that this is not true. The price needs to be more reasonable, or I will continue switching my household computers to Macs. There is NO reason for Windows 7 to cost any more than OSX. In fact, it should cost less.”

“Windows 7 should really be a service pack to Windows Vista. Why don’t wan cards work out of the box with Windows 7? Why don’t drivers that work with Vista work with Windows 7?? The driver model is the same.”

“Honestly I don’t understand what all the over the top excitement is about. I have used Vista for quite some time now and think it is great and have no problems with it on my home built rig. Windows 7 looks about the same to me. I do like the libraries concept and ability to combine files across my network but most of the other features are very similar to Vista. New task bar is ok but I make extensive use of quick launch and Rocket Dock on Vista so this is very similar. Right now I feel no compulsion to have to use windows 7 and am very happy with Vista and Linux Mint. Based on some of the hype I am actually a little disappointed with Windows 7.”

“With all the emphasis on silly things such as the Task Bar, Start Menu, etc., I wonder where the industry pundits heads are. How about more focus on speed? Boot time, application launch time, etc. I configure my desktop simply and cleanly and can find what I need nearly as fast as I can think it, so stop trying to arrange my desktop so it “Looks” better to you. I don’t social network and never will so built in features for this are meaningless to me. I use about 25 applications on a continuous basis. I need all of them to work flawlessly. There will be no upgrade in my future until they do. These are the only applications I use, so why upgrade at all? I would upgrade only if they ran faster. How about flawlessly finding all the hardware on my network? Including my wife’s computer and my laptop. Home Network is useless as it needs all machines to be running Windows 7. My wife’s machine is Win2K, my laptop is WinXP. 3rd party free software can VPN to these machines, but Windows 7 can’t??? My main work is Audio capture from tape, CD/DVD creation, Video rendering, composing articles with graphics, and the usual Internet stuff. Speed improvements are always welcome in multimedia work. Here’s an idea for something “new” for Windows. How about a version of Windows that runs everything I need and does it from a USB stick that I can pop into any machine and have my good ol’ desktop? Yup, a hardware independent OS. What a unique concept. THAT I would gladly pay for. Just some random thoughts from an average user.”

“‘Eh.’ Nothing special.”

Verbatim Comments: Mixed Reports

“Performed a clean install on a Latitude d630c with no issues. Found all devices including Nvidia M135 video card, Intel 4965 Wireless and Dell Bluetooth module and installed the drivers for them automatically. I am very impressed with the battery life with laptop versus my similar configured Dell XPS m1330 running Windows Vista Ultimate. Both have six cell batteries but the Latitude seems to last much longer running on battery. However, there are still a few negatives. I still don’t like the networking setup in Windows 7. Connecting to a wireless network is much easier/improved but getting to the other network properties, like TCP/IP settings, is still a pain compared with Windows XP or 200x. Also I have experienced issues with the display [open windows/programs] becoming garbled when resuming from standby and from screen saver. Overall Windows 7 is a step in the right direction.”

“It’s getting better. It’s much better than Vista, however it has a long way (think several service packs) until I switch from good ol’ XP SP3 or even Linux.”

“Overall I think this step (Win7) is a good one. I’ve installed the beta on two older Dells and one ‘home built’ all running XP pro. The older ones are running the 32 bit version while the home built is running the 64bit one. Other than a couple of issues the beta is running better than I expected. Performance is as good or better than XP, expecially boot up time. The bottom line is the beta feels like Vista with some improvements and should be considered a free upgrade or service pack to Vista rather than a new product.”

“Win7 so far seems to be a nice catch over Vista, yet nothing more than what Vista should have been in first place.”

So there you go. Like I said, all this is is the first impressions of a couple of hundred folks who were interested enough to try the beta, but it’s still a worthwhile reality check–especially since the consensus was so clear in most areas. Thanks to everybody who participated. And if you didn’t take the survey but do have thoughts about Windows 7, please chime in the via comments.



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15 Comments For This Post

  1. Nik Says:

    “Price is going to be a major consideration with Windows 7. Microsoft is shedding jobs, outsourcing, and contributing to a falling economy. At the same time, they still think their software is worth premium prices. Vista proves that this is not true. The price needs to be more reasonable, or I will continue switching my household computers to Macs. There is NO reason for Windows 7 to cost any more than OSX. In fact, it should cost less.”

    Except to use a Mac, you need to buy a whole new machine. OSX + Machine is more costly than windows by itself.

    And £100-£150 for an operating system is not premium prices. Premium pricing is like Photoshop, £1000+

  2. David Hamilton Says:

    I assume the commenter was intending to replace hardware as it becomes obsolete, so the machine cost largely irrelevant here.

    Don’t forget that this £100-£150 is an *upgrade* cost, not a purchase cost. Also, it is for an operating system, that merely enables you to use your computer – it should just work.

    That Vista works so badly that many will feel the need to upgrade to remove the pain suggests that a lot of people will feel upset that they are being charged again for what they should have been provided with in the first place.

  3. Tufte's devout Says:

    Your charts would be much more readable if the “y” item order was always the same, and the “x” scale was constant.

    You could then do graphical comparisons without having to read the axes each time.

  4. Jolt Says:

    You can see the financial motivation for Microsoft to really hit a home run with Windows 7.

    It will be tough to win me over from Fedora Core 10, but I remain open.

  5. pipertehc Says:

    ok so concider this – the beta was only available to technet subscribers (i am one – so no fan boy flames) most technet subscribers are Microsoft professionals the other bunch are the torrent crowd alot of which acquire unpaid for software and dont pay licence fees – picking up MS exploits on the way – these groups have only ever and will only ever (for the foreseable future) used MS operating systems

    I would like to see a a real comprehensive usage comparison with a distribution like mint linux, which has proven to me to be a better out of the box experience than any microsoft OS – my client base is aged 8 to 70 years old and ranges from the technophobic to the professional – very single person (around 40) i have installed a modern linux distribution for has adopted it as the full time primary OS. for ease of use for functionality for cost effectiveness, stability and security being the primary focus for all.

    open source needs fully independent representation with no political or financial agenda !

  6. confused Says:

    first commenter:

    “The price needs to be more reasonable, or I will continue switching my household computers to Macs”

    huh? because Macs are so reasonably priced? wtf?

  7. David Hamilton Says:

    “huh? because Macs are so reasonably priced? wtf?”

    Suggest you look in Technologizer’s archive for their series of articles comparing Mac and a range of PC vendor prices feature by feature …

  8. Brandon Says:

    pipertehc –

    That is incorrect. The beta release was made available to anyone who wanted to download it from, and was downloaded by over a million non-TechNet / non-MSDN users.

  9. VPN Haus Says:

    The one drawback I’ve seen in Windows 7 is its readiness (or lack thereof) to address enterprise security concerns – the cost of upgrading to the 2008 R2 server in order to use DirectAccess could be prohibitive.

    More discussion of Win 7’s enterprise-worthiness:

    More discussion of Win 7 security:

  10. Windows 7 Says:

    I’ve read on many blogs that the install process of win 7 would have been faster, but I didn’t really noticed any improvement on it; especially if compared to vista. It takes 35minutes on fast machines and 1hour in slow ones.

  11. David Hamilton Says:

    Apple’s announcement yesterday that Snow Leopard will be available for $29 really puts the pressure on Microsoft. Both Windows 7 and OS X 10.6 are evolutionary releases, rather than revolutionary ones with a swathe of new features.

    Should Microsoft price Windows upgrades higher than Apple’s rate, would that reflect a feeling that while most Mac users are pretty content with 10.5, many more PC users are less than happy with Vista, and so would pay a larger premium to upgrade?

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