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Some of you might have already noticed that Microsoft had announced the release of Windows 7 (RC1) package recently. Some commonly heard question includes "I have Window XP and i am happy with it, why do i need another OS?", "I have the latest Vista, and Microsoft is coming up with Vista SP2, what's the point of coming up with an entirely new OS?"
I myself once had the same questions as most of the people does, thus i did some reading the study about the new Windows 7 and i think it might be good to share what i understand so far to my readers... :)
Image source from here
"I have Window XP and i am happy with it, why do i need another OS?"
To answer this question is rather easy. If you can do a simple study on the history of Window XP, you will realize that XP is reaching 8-year-old to date. Just like Microsoft's all previous versions of operating system, it will soon being phased out and end-of-life (EOL) by Microsoft. You might be wondering when will this be?? Well, Microsoft had confirmed that they are ceasing the mainstream support for Window XP recently, and it will only receive security patches up to April 2014. This means that there will not be any functional enhancement for XP, except security fixes. And of coz when you match this timeline with Windows 7's timeline, it is actually making sense to give Windows 7 a couple of years after its first release for the market to actually adapted to it and then EOL Windows XP (by the time it would have reaching ~13 year old, and in software world, these life-span is long enough, for the sake of its maintenance and sustaining cost).
Some little fact about Window XP:
In the rapid changing IT world, price per memory is relatively cheaper than it used to be. A lot of people might be thinking that "i can have much memory than that installed as the price of RAM is relatively cheaper.."..Yes, i do agree that price is becoming cheaper these day, but that isn't everything (at least not for Window XP). Window XP is an 32-bit window system, and do you know with these 32-bit OS, the maximum effective memory which can be utilized and recognized by these OS is only 3GB?? Meaning that even if you hardware do support up to 4 GB RAM installed on your machine, in terms of window wise, you are still being lock-in within the 3GB RAM window size
"I have the latest Vista, and Microsoft is coming up with Vista SP2, what's the point of coming up with an entirely new OS?"
To answer this question instead, we need a lot more discussion and comparison against the 2 OS.
First of all, for all Vista user would know, that Vista is a memory and resource-hungry beast. You would have noticed that as compared to XP, Vista's recommended minimum of 1GB memory and 15GB of free space for it to run "reasonably", while XP required only minimum 128MB of memory and 1.5GB of free space. As compared to the new Windows 7, with the same requirement as Vista, Microsoft promised a more effective and very much less resource-hungry than the Vista, while retaining and improving very much of the fancy-looking interface which Vista offers.
And of coz that is not the only thing. There are plenty of stuff that Microsoft promised to offer (or improve) in this new version of Windows over the previous one. Something which they have been putting the highlights on will be the "Jump-List" which offer the user a more easy access to the most frequently used files by just a few clicks away. And another highlight will be the newly designed tasks bar which is claimed to be more user friendly and more easily customizable. The new task bar allows user to place as much application as possible on it and having some eye-catching indicating on the taskbar icon itself to tell the user which application are currently running or multiple instance of the application is running, and of coz, to allow some thumbnail like preview of the running application.
Still being annoyed by the User Account Control (UAC) asking for permission dialog which keep on popping up whenever you try to do something on you File System (like manually running some custom-build application, replacing some file, and many many more?) in Window Vista? Well, this same old feature is still there in Windows 7, however it works in the more intelligent way by popping up only when really suspicious action is in progress by an automated tool (example, some unknown application is trying to overwrite some files in your system). And what more? it allow user to customize the security level for UAC, to give user much more control on what should be allowed and what is not.
Just a side story about the UAC. I am a full time software engineer and almost 100% of my work are building custom-build software. And due to compatibility issue, we need to always test our programm in both XP and Vista OS. There was once when i wrote a simple program named "XXXUpdateTool", in was running perfectly in XP, however when it comes to Vista, it just doesn't work at all (thanks to the UAC in Vista.. ).. i spent days on debugging just to find out why. And finally guess what? i simple rename my tool to "XXXUpdtTool", and it works!!! Yes, it is just the "Update" word in my tool's name, the UAC "suspect" that it is some silly malicious tool which is trying to do something funny on the system, so it blocks it from running..
And of coz, as of most of the user, i would switch from XP to Vista only because of its better security features than XP. Other than that, i think the only other reason might be the look-and-feel. However, with the release of Windows 7, it combine the good from both XP (for its performance) and Vista (for its security and look-and-feel). Base on a benchmarking done by PC Plus magazine over XP, Vista and Window 7 RC1, Vista was overtaken by Windows 7 in almost all aspect (including boot time, shutdown time, copy file time, gaming frame rate fps, burn data dvd, ripping audio cd, etc)
After all, is Windows 7 ready to go? I would suggest that those who are interested give the Rc1 a try to get a feel on how it work for you yourself. Microsoft actually offering free download and installation of Windows 7 RC1 for free until March of next year. Until then, you have months and your option to decide whether to switch to the new Windows 7