Was Windows 7 worth saving XP for?

By , InfoWorld |  Windows, Windows 7, Windows XP

Worse, I've lost the "motor memory" method of working, where I can move my mouse to the right menu and select the desired option almost without looking. That's a real time-saver in XP and other menu-based OSes. Figuring out which icon means what, where it is, and how to find it if Windows didn't think I needed it really slows me down (as does figuring out how to turn menus back on where they're still supported).

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Microsoft is determined to ram that contextual UI approach down all our throats. It's not only standard in Windows but in Office and bundled Windows apps like Media Player; if you plan to remain with Windows, you'll simply have to get used to it. I can't, so I'm sticking with Mac OS X as my primary OS, and I still recommend desktop Linux's simpler interface that most business users can more easily adapt to if they must leave XP behind on their PCs.

I have to acknowledge that some people like the new ribbon-based contextual UI; for them, Windows 7's refined version is a real plus.

Once you get past the UI -- both the eye candy and the contextual approach -- Windows 7 doesn't bring a lot to the table that would make me want to invest in it. Its touch capabilities are a disappointment, and the "XP mode" approach to ensuring backward compatibility is clunky -- you're essentially running XP in isolation, limiting operations such as copy and paste.

And there's the ongoing issue of too many versions with hard-to-understand differences that will bedvil home users, small businesses, and even enterprise IT (which will know to pick just one but still face the reality that employees working at home on their own PCs could have any of several versions. That needless variety is compounded by the fact that some OS features, such as Aero Peek, work only if you have specific graphics hardware and drivers installed -- so companies will likely find that even with a standard version of Windows 7, their users will have different capabilities. That should be fun for tech support ("Is your graphics processor DirectX 9-compatible? Do you have a WDDM driver installed?" "Huh?").

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