Limbaugh doesn’t want President Obama to succeed. For me, I think that President Obama is a breath of fresh air, and wish him every success. On the other hand, I fervently hope that Windows 7 fails miserably. Not because I have that many problems with Microsoft, but because if it does not fail miserably, the company will see itself as going down the right path.

Since Vista, Microsoft wants to lock the operating system down, more like something run from ROM than RAM. It sees itself as the arbiter of everyone’s computer. I don’t think that should be the case. Windows should help me to accomplish things in the way I want it to, not force me to do things the way that Steve Ballmer thinks I should.

I’ve said this before, but some apparently did not see it, or understand it, so I’ll run it down once more.

For every version of Windows up to Vista, the new version brought new features that were designed to assist the user accomplish something better, faster, or perhaps, for the first time. Windows XP allowed the use of drives of a size greater than 127 GB without the use of a 3rd party crutch. For the first time, it made people aware of the need, in many cases, of a firewall, and provided it. The Windows firewall was not full featured or bidirectional, but it provided a start.  For those not upgrading from the business versions of Windows (NT, 2000) it meant the first version of Windows that could make use of more than 512 MB of RAM without trickery. The increased RAM and hard drive size was a major upgrade. ( I purchased XP, on almost the first day available, and never looked back to the 9x versions.)

I attended many of the Microsoft briefings during the Vista rollout. In each case, I saw nothing that was a ‘gotta have it’ feature. I used the last of the betas, and then got a copy of Vista, as a reward for my participation. I still saw nothing that made me want to use it on a regular basis. Instead, I saw many things that made me want to remove it and go back to the warm, fuzzy feeling I get from XP.

This had never happened before. My shelf in my office has so many versions of Microsoft operating systems, a passer-by might think I was either a fanboy or an employee. I have DOS 3.3, DOS 4.01, DOS 5.0, DOS 6.0, DOS 6.22, Windows 3.0. Windows 3.1, Windows for Workgroups 3.1, Windows 3.11, Windows for Workgroups 3.11, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 98SE, Windows Me, Windows NT 3.51, and Windows XP (several copies), and Windows Server 2003. I also have offshoots of Microsoft projects, like IBM DOS 6.1, IBM DOS 6.3, IBM DOS 7.0, and OS/2 2.11 (before Microsoft broke off the affair with IBM). All of this is to say I like new stuff, and am usually very happy to do the necessary work to upgrade, and am usually happy with the results.

Vista was the first big disappointment, as I saw benefits to Windows Me, however small they were. Vista shows me nothing, and unfortunately, after running Windows 7 beta for several weeks, I am left worse than cold. I am steamed that Microsoft is going further in the direction of desktop lockdown, and trying to re-invent the desktop interface, by bringing back elements of the Windows 3.1 interface.

I also know two other things. One is that I am not alone. The second is that, in many places where opinions are voiced, dissenting ones are being stifled. How do I know this? Several times I have been writing something for this column, and I would go back to an article to quote certain comments, and they had been removed. (They weren’t being removed for language used. Well, at least not profanity, that is.)

Now today I see yet another article about the question of success when Windows 7 is rolled out. 

10 Things Windows 7 Must Do To Succeed

I recently attended a briefing where Microsoft explained some of the new features in Windows 7 to reviewers from different publications. At the end of the meeting, the MS folks asked the half-dozen of us present what it will take for the new OS to be a success.

"Injecting about three trillion dollars into the economy to end this recession," was my initial response. It’s hard to imagine any new OS will be a success, especially with business customers, until the economy improves. What we are already using works just fine, thank you. It will have to see us through.

So, let’s fast forward in the economic cycle to the inevitable uptick, when investing in business computing becomes easier. Here are 10 things Windows 7 will have to do.

1. Windows 7 should not be positioned in relation to Windows Vista, which is nonexistent in most businesses. Windows 7 needs to be related back to Windows XP, to which I think it is the legitimate successor.

This is simply inane. If compared to XP, Windows 7 fails miserably, given the context of the business environment.

2. I don’t see Windows 7 as Vista SP2 or Vista Lite or anything like this. Windows 7 looks like a new OS to me and deserves to be treated as such. (Readers: Give Windows 7 a chance, OK?)

A quick trip to the ophthalmologist is in order here, as anyone can see that they share common interface design, and are only moderately different visually. Furthermore, they share similar directory structures. Both things are to be reviled,

3. Windows 7 needs to run just fine on hardware the runs Windows XP just fine today. My sense, playing with Windows 7, is this is possible. Vista grabbed an early reputation as a resource hog. Windows 7 must avoid this.

Much work needed here, at least on the 64 bit revision, as the beta 64 bit runs poorly, on hardware that Windows XP Pro works very well on. Admittedly, it is a beta, but the fanboys and paid shills are declaring the beta near perfect – I hardly think so – some genuine honest appraisals would do more for 7”s  possible adoption than the incessant claims of perfection and nirvana.

4. Because Windows 7 cannot upgrade an existing Windows XP installation, Microsoft needs to provide easy transition tools. A copy of Windows 7 and a flash drive or small stack of DVDs needs to move all my data and my applications and my settings to the new OS. This may mean Microsoft needs to send an applications disc with Windows 7.

This is where this reviewer shows his lack of familiarity with Windows. Anyone who has worked with Windows for any time knows that any sort of in-place upgrade is fraught with problems, and undertaking one is a fool’s mission.

5. Just for emphasis: If I have to reinstall my applications, Windows 7 will not be a welcome upgrade.

This lack of in-place upgrade is the only kind thing Microsoft does for the prospective sucker user.

6. If Microsoft does not or cannot accomplish the previous items, then it should not promote Windows 7 as an upgrade and offer it on new hardware only. This will avoid one of the major factors in Vista’s failure: It’s inability to run well on what people already owned.

7. Fortunately, the Windows 7 user experience is not wildly different from XP the way Vista is. This will make it easier for companies (or households) to have a mix of Windows XP and Windows 7.

See answer to point #2, it’s time for another visit.

8. I like what I have seen of Windows 7, but have yet to hear Microsoft offer a good reason besides "a wide range of improvements" for me to upgrade. If it comes only on new hardware, that’s fine. And, yes, some people will then decide they like the new OS and upgrade older machines as a result. But, if Microsoft hopes to sell an upgrade it needs to look at how Apple sells its upgrades.

Wow, first point of agreement‽

9. Speaking of which: Apple sells features and applications that are included with the OS as major upgrade benefits. If Microsoft included more significant applications with the OS, maybe it could make them as important as the iApps are to Apple customers. Apple manages to charge its best customers up to $300-a-year for upgrades of some sort.

I see both sides here. Any more stuff included and the Feds start complaining again. Also, Microsoft wants you, the user, to want Office 14. Improving the OS experience would lose sales of the other cash cow in the barn.

10. I think we have solved the problem of linking Windows 7 too closely to the release of Office 14 now that the timing between two seems clearly offset. Delays, economic or technical, should not bring the two releases back together. At least, not until its clear from seeing the software that one won’t drag down the other.

Microsoft has shown its intractable behavior here several times, by putting "all hands on deck" focused on one big release could speed releases, and fresh eyes, not used to working on the project at hand could help spot problems better than depending on eyes already bleary from too many hours of revisions and Jolt cola. Unfortunately, Microsoft refuses to do this.

I won’t say those are the "top 10" things Microsoft needs to do to make Windows 7 a success. My experience with the OS is too limited for me to feel I’ve considered all the angles, but these suggestions are a good place for Redmond to start.

Yes.

A continued economic downturn could have a silver lining. It could force Microsoft to rethink the Vista – Win 7 screw up, and Windows 8 might finally be a step in the direction shown from an extrapolation of Windows 2000 and Windows XP.

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