Win7: Well, have you tried it?

A friend at Microsoft messaged me on Facebook and asked me if I’ve tried Windows 7 now that it’s officially released.  The short answer is, “No.”

broken_windows_2At home, I only use Windows on my gaming machine. XP after all these years is running (mostly) smoothly and quickly. The newest game I’m running said yesterday that Win7 is not officially supported despite the developer having a very close relationship with Microsoft. Games are particularly sensitive to change, especially in graphics drivers, audio drivers, and memory management. There’s no benefit under Win7 with any of the games I play (e.g., no DirectX 10 games), only risk.

My current client is still on Windows XP. While I expect they will move to Windows 7 eventually, it won’t be anytime soon: The upgrade inertia of a company with tens of thousands of computers, many of which don’t have the horsepower to make Win7 a good experience, is a frightening thing to behold. Especially if you make your living by selling shrink-wrapped upgrades to companies like them.

Win7 is in a bind; Vista’s problems weren’t entirely technical and may reflect the mature nature of the computer market more than mistakes made at the software level. People upgrade Windows when they buy new computers, not to get new features. The economic downturn means fewer computer sales. Some analysts think Win7 will drive more hardware sales,but that’s a cart-before-the-horse argument to me.

People use applications, not hardware or operating systems. Until those applications require new hardware or Win7, people won’t upgrade. It’s cost without benefit. Microsoft is trying to include useful software with Win7, something they (sometimes unfairly) get into trouble for, but people with Windows right now already have 3rd party software for those things. While I’ve come to doubt that people are rational actors in the economic sense, the cost/benefit equation is just too obvious here, especially when money is tight.

On my Mac, I upgrade more frequently because Apple provides functional improvements to applications I use in daily life as well as new/cool stuff.  There are more applications shipped with the OS that I use regularly, so I am more interested in what an OS upgrade includes. It also helps that Mac OS X upgrades are more frequent and lower impact. Although I’ve wanted to do a clean install, I haven’t *had* to do one and therefore haven’t done it.

27 inches of Sexy
27 inches of Sexy

The most likely thing to get me to buy Win7 right now is if I get one of the new iMacs to act as both gaming and desktop computer. 27 inches, video in, and nice horsepower in the CPU/GPU on the high end have me interested. And it’s lickably sexy. My gaming rig is a few years old (another reason I’m hesitant to push it to Win7 even though I have a Gig of memory XP can’t address) but a new iMac would have plenty of cycles to spare for Win7.

Microsoft sticking to a release date is nice to see, but it’s not without risk. My final hesitation (on almost any 1.0 product) is how rushed it was to get out the door on time. How far into the future is SP1 going to be?

For no real benefit, Win7 would only bring me risk and cost, so I don’t do Windows upgrades–for now.

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