There has been much anticipation leading up to October 22, 2009. It’s Microsoft’s biggest release of an Operating System ever. Windows 7. The wait is over, is it as good as you thought it was going to be? Has it filled gaps that previous versions didn’t? Let’s take a look back through the timeline of Windows and see what Microsoft did different this time around to “round the troops” and get everyone excited about Windows 7.
The Other 6 Versions
On April 6, 1992 we were introduced to the first graphical Windows – Windows 3.1. It was very picturesque and liked by many – a stepping stone in to the world of Operating Systems. Its successor, Windows 95 came to us in August 1995, just three years later and was much anticipated by many as it was beginning to connect us to the Internet more easily than ever before and also add features and functionality that was only talked about in years past. It was what seemed to be a truly revolutionary operating system as it gave us a “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) interface and also introduced us to the “start” button, which still exists today. It was heavily built upon and in June 1998, again three years on, we were introduced to Windows 98. This was more streamlined and began to appear not only in homes but in the workplace in certain instances as it could be networked. Then came what many consider the disaster to Windows. What was to be released as a stop gap between Windows 98 and Windows XP, on September 14, 2000, Microsoft introduced us to Windows ME (Millennium Edition). Dubbed by many as Windows ME (Millions of Errors), it only saw the light of day for a year or so before crawling in to a hole (and hopefully never coming back again). Quickly replaced in August 2001 with Windows XP, the fifth iteration of the Microsoft desktop OS, Windows XP took networking to the next level. It built upon the foundations of Windows 2000 – the professional younger brother of XP – and allowed people to get jobs done more easily, effectively and efficiently. It was deployed in mass by many and loved by all. Windows XP was so robust and worked that well, that it took Microsoft almost 6 years before releasing Windows Vista, which was to be the new operating system of the 21st century. However, Vista, similar to ME wasn’t accepted with such open arms and as such Microsoft found themselves struggling to keep this operating system’s head above water. It took more memory than its predecessors, had a new architecture that wasn’t friendly to external devices and was very slow and cumbersome. Something had to be done to gain the trust back of the user base that was slowly converting their systems to other companies or even just sticking with Windows XP in fear of Vista’s wrath.
Windows 7 Community Involvement
Microsoft promised within three years of Vista’s release date – January 30, 2007 – they would have a new operating system for the mass market. It had to be an operating system that would hopefully cure the woes of the public and bring them around. In order to do this though, they had to figure out a way to make Windows 7 more successful than the previously released Operating Systems. It had to have something different and most of all, it had to work and be loved. On January 9, 2009, Microsoft made publically available to the entire world, the beta of Windows 7. This was a first, as previously if you wished to trial any previous beta software from Microsoft you had to register and potentially be screened before being allowed to trial the upcoming software releases. This was different because in order to succeed, Microsoft needed the feedback from the users and those closely connected to the usage of the new OS.
After listening to the community during the 5 month beta, on May 5, 2009 the release candidate for the software was also made freely available to the world and in order to ensure the bugs were sorted out and everyone felt comfortable using it, Microsoft started a forum for the RC software. These forums as well as other Microsoft websites and communities – such as Springboard – started to give the users what they needed most – a voice and answers. Windows 7 was turning out to be what everyone wanted.
One of the other key critical elements of Windows 7 compared to other operating systems is that it is the first OS not to require a hardware upgrade. This means that almost 90% of the equipment out there today running either Windows XP or Windows Vista (9 years of hardware) can suitably run Windows 7. In fact, statistics have shown that Windows 7 actually out performs both Operating Systems on the same hardware in more than 3 of every 4 tests.
In order to make sure Windows 7 also worked better, the user interface was streamlined and made more friendly. It was to take on the same look and feel as their recent Office 2007 release. It was to have a ribbon and make things easier to use and get to. Not only did it streamline the interface, but it integrated search capabilities in to the OS so you could find things quicker and with less effort.
Windows 7 has been drastically changed on the outside, yet the inside is still a Microsoft Operating System. In the past 18 years of Operating Systems, we’ve had some highs and lows seen some changes for the good and also some detrimental ones. This iteration of an Operating System has taken on board the most important aspect of anything, and it isn’t a technical facet, it’s the power of the community. It’s been tried, tested and most of all, the team developing it listened to ensure this one will be one for the archives and works better than any of the previous ones and will be one the community, us who made it work the way it does, embrace it like no other.