Microsoft is not letting up on this. The basketball term is full court press. No one will be able to get away from the barrage of advertising about Windows 7.

Just take a moment, and imagine a world in which things were offered upon their own merit, and we products sell themselves. Ahhh. Oh, well, back to reality.

Mary-Jo Foley has let us in on the very next barrage from Microsoft revolves around the sale of the idea that all of what appears in Windows 7 was the idea of the public.

I didn’t get any of my ideas incorporated into the final product, did you?

The new campaign, which kicks off  Thursday in six countries, is “I’m a PC and Windows 7 was my idea.” The thought behind the message is that Windows 7 was created out of user feedback and complaints: They wanted an operating system that was faster, less complicated, smaller, more secure. And Windows 7 is the result.

Blogger Long Zheng noted that one of Microsoft employees featured in the video clip from the campaign is Chaitanya Sareen, responsible for developing the new Windows 7 taskbar.

The new campaign will include TV, print ads, banner ads, posters/billboards and branded-entertainment elements, according to The New York times. I saw one of the posters on a bus-stop kiosk here in New York yesterday and I have to admit it left me scratching my head, wondering who the guy was in the picture who was claiming Windows 7 was his idea…

The new campaign provides a new way for Microsoft to put Vista behind it, without actually disparaging Vista by name. But it’s undeniable that   Vista is the operating system  about which most of these user complaints is targeted.

As I have stated, I have never been so torn about a Windows release before. Up until Windows Vista, I was pretty much thrilled with each new version of Windows. I can remember Windows for Workgroups and the benefits it brought.  I remember standing outside of Best Buy to get a second copy of Windows 95, so that I could have both machines in the house running it. I remember that with Windows XP, I was excited from day 1, because it took care of 2 major concerns, the drive size constraint of 128 GB, and the physical memory limits of 512MB.  (I had been using Windows 98SE, and had only limited use of Windows 2000, because of others using the PC in my house)

I hated Vista from the start. I was not one of those who was on the fence about any of the features. The features I was longing to see had already been dropped before the last beta.

With Windows 7, I’m finding more to like each time i use it. If I could get the old menu back, it would be as close to perfection as XP seemed to be, back in 2001. The thing about this is that other than the screen metrics, there is not one other thing about the Windows 7 changes that I am really wild about. I can take them or leave them. It would be so nice if the old menu system had been left alone, so that for those of us addicted to order, it could have been used.

The new taskbar? Other than the floating preview, I can leave it all behind. Jumplists are not how I work, nor do I expect to start working that way. Homegroup? I can see that for the people who wish to know nothing and still get connected, it is nice. However, for those who know something, and/or  have a mixed network, it is best left behind.

I find the newer Aero interface very pleasing. I like the fact that the help system seems to be better than the one in Windows XP (It had to become that way, since so many things are different, and Microsoft refuses to include an actual book with Windows, or have anything like the man pages of Unix – if they are going to lift other constructs of that OS, why not include a full set of man pages? That was one of my ideas that did not get through!)

So how much of the new Windows 7 was the public’s idea? If you believe the hype, much of it. On the other hand, if you read a few of the current articles written about people inside Microsoft who are in the design group, the real answer is not much.

Microsoft had all the ideas of what it wanted to do etched in stone long before any usability tests began. (By the way, I still await the contact of any person who was part of the framers of this, or any other Microsoft interface, who resided outside of Redmond. I still don’t believe such a person exists).

Microsoft has done an acceptable job of changing the nastiness of Vista into something palatable. Better than that really. It’s not bad. Like Luke Skywalker, I find myself being wooed to the dark side, where sloth (Libraries, where disk management is something to ignore) and sloppiness (no drill down menu system, additions go where ever they want) are encouraged. But I have too many years built up of “Cleanliness is next to godliness” and real time knowledge of the benefits of maintaining order to stay under the spell for long.

No, Windows 7 was clearly not my idea, but then that’s just a deception for anyone not employed by Microsoft, isn’t it?

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There’s a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.

Steven Wright

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