Despite the criticism that I receive from time to time, I have no problem with Windows… even though I am a very happy full-time Linux user. When I need Windows, I run XP in VirtualBox in seamless mode on my notebook that came pre-installed with Ubuntu.

For its time, circa 2001-whenever, XP was not bad at all for most people. Its single big issue was security though. And it was here that Vista offered some assistance with this, despite the fact that some of the security improvements were less than foolproof.

But Windows 7, for Microsoft at least, is an opportunity at a fresh start. Speed that Vista really should have had, along with the self-described XP compatibility mode that many users are going to expect out of the box for various key legacy applications. Assuming everything goes well on the legacy software and new hardware driver front, Windows 7 could be this year’s Windows XP.

And as long as the casual user does not open up his or her copy of Windows 7 only to find that instead of Windows Mail, they receive an explanation that they are out of luck, I think 7 has a shot at doing really well with its release.

And perhaps most important, we will see Microsoft realizing that not everyone out there is excited at the prospect of junking their PC with each new OS release. I heard for years that this is not true, but the specs speak for themselves up through Vista. And even then, Vista was being sold on PCs that were hardly enough to run it successfully. Based on my experience with the early 7 beta(s), I am confident that it will run all right on most PCs from within the last 2-3 years. And I deem that to be reasonable myself.