Was Windows 7 worth saving XP for?

By , InfoWorld |  Windows, Windows 7, Windows XP

Out of that "we really don't like Vista but feel hopeless about it" atmosphere grew InfoWorld's "Save XP" campaign, aimed at calling out the miasma that was Vista and rallying both IT and end-users to stand up to Microsoft and demand that Windows XP be kept available until Microsoft could deliver a worthwhile replacement. More than 210,000 of you signed our "Save XP" petition demanding that XP remain on the market. Those same analyst firms that touted Vista in late 2007 suddenly began criticizing it by spring 2008, when the "Save XP" campaign got wide media coverage. While Microsoft made little public mention of your voices, and CEO Steve Ballmer ignored your petition when we delivered it, it came up with a convolution called the "XP downgrade" that has in fact maintained XP's availability on the market in parallel with Vista.

So you won.

But the question remains: Now that Windows 7 is officially shipping, was it worth saving Windows XP for?

My answer: Yes -- but. Yes, Windows 7 is not the disaster that Vista was. But Windows 7 is no home run, either. I can't imagine people camping out for it or even getting excited in large numbers, as they would for a new iPhone or Mac OS X. It will also be interesting to see how many will "downgrade" Windows 7 to XP, an option made available for some editions of Windows 7 until April 23, 2011, for those not yet ready to make the Windows 7 leap. (A Hewlett-Packard exec told me he expects many if not most businesses to "downgrade" Windows 7 to XP through much of 2010. And he expects almost no one to buy Vista after today.)

The bottom line is that Windows 7 is better than Vista, and in many ways, it's technically better than Windows XP. Still, I'm not sure it's a necessary OS, and there are several reasons I won't make it my main OS. But if my company migrated from XP to Windows 7, I would not object, as I would have vehemently opposed any migration from XP to Vista. If my company had forced me to adopt Vista, I would be screaming for a Windows 7 upgrade to ease the pain.

Where Windows 7 delivers the goods Windows 7 corrects Vista's most egregious problem: a convoluted user interface that left many users in tears trying to do what had been simple work in XP. In Vista, you could have a half-dozen dialog boxes littering your screen just using the Personalize control panel, for example.

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