In case you have been sitting on a desert island recently (and if so, lucky you), you'll have noticed that Microsoft have announced Windows 7. The public and press reception is probably summed up by the word 'underwhelmed' as shown here and here.
What caught my eye was Steve Ballmer saying 'Vista isn't a failure'. Oh yeah? I think even having to say that tells it's own story...
As someone that works for an ISV (Independent Software Vendor) I can tell you than new Operating Systems are like Acts of God like floods, typhoons or earthquakes, but with advance warnings - there's no point in moaning about it, you just need to prepare as best you can.
It's just that, with Vista, it was really hard to see what it gave anyone that was extra. OK, it looks much nicer, but it needs a relatively big, beefy computer to run it, and in many aspects (such as networking) it doesn't interoperate well with XP or Windows 2003, and most importantly doesn't run a lot of applications (derisively called legacy applications by Microsoft) that users want to run.
It seems most of you agree. Here at Serio, only our smallest customers have taken-up Vista, and for these it's not so much a choice as it is what came pre-installed on their newest computers. For companies with more than 300 computers it seems like Vista offers nothing in return for the considerable cost and time in upgrading. What evidence we have for actual use of Vista is discussed here and it's not particularly good reading for Microsoft.
So what about Windows 7 then? Well as far as we can tell it's all about touch - rather than exclusively using a mouse to interact with a computer, you'll directly interact with the screen as you do with devices like the Apple iPhone. We've been here before though, as we blogged about over a year ago.
Personally I take touch screen with a pinch of salt. For a start, it takes a good deal of energy to hold your arms directly in front of you (go on, try it), particularly if your company's health and safety police have moved your screen to the optimum distance away from your face. I can't see users doing this for more than a few minutes before they reach for the mouse again.
Secondly, a lot of people eat at their desks. Muck that is currently sitting on keyboard and mice will end-up on screens as well where you have to look at it.
I have to say that, right now, it's hard not to feel underwhelmed by the prospect of another desktop Operating System. I see Microsoft's need to release one (investor pressure) but I can't see a corresponding user need just yet.