So I was looking reading Friday's xkcd, I did a bit of exploring on Windows 7. I have to admit, from what I've seen, I think it'll be a big improvement over Vista. This doesn't mean I'll use it, of course; I just think it'll be a better experience for most users.
In fact, some of the stuff they were doing just looked suspiciously good to me. And then it hit me - they're OS X-ifying Windows! I don't have a problem with that, per se; as a matter of fact, it's kind of nice to see that Mac is enough of a threat that Windows is being forced to let go of some older, clunky models in order to compete in the market. What kind of stuff are they doing, then?
The biggest thing that tipped me off was the new taskbar. It is, virtually, OS X's dock. You can now drag frequently used programs to the taskbar and use stack-like structures to manage files and applications... just like OS X. Sadly, though, Windows seems not to have adopted OS X's method of managing processes.
Touch screen capacity is something else that's been added to Windows 7. Of course, touch screens have always been available in the sense of hardware mouse emulation, but now the touch interface is recognized by Windows and special features, including some gestures, are available. The Windows site made it unclear as to whether or not multi-touch is available. This is, again, a technology Apple has been in the spotlight on; I commend Microsoft, however, for beating Apple to making touch displays a part of their OS.
Perhaps most exciting is the introduction of Internet Explorer 8, because it probably forcasts more failure for Microsoft. It's the same ugly, clunky interface we saw in IE 7. I really wish Microsoft would scrap this technology and rebuild their approach to web browsers from the ground up.
Windows Live has some new advancements that seem to be encroaching on Apple's MobileMe service; but as I use neither of these services, I can't really comment with any authority on what's going on there.
It's, strangely, one of the smaller new features in Windows 7 that made me consider OS X possibly taking away a good market share from Windows in the near future; their new device management system apparently does an amazing job recognizing and configuring devices. This is great news, of course, and something that OS X has also done well in the past. The Microsoft video demonstrated plugging in a device and showed the dialog popup that provided options for, among other things, syncing the device's calendars, music, etc.
I think the problem Windows is going to see soon is the barrier to entry they've created for good open source software. Apple provides developers with clean and extensive tools and documentation on their operating system, while Microsoft's developers tools are hidden away inside their Visual Studio suite. OS X is particularly nice to work with, of course, because of BSD under the hood; but even so, Apple's attitude toward developers seems so much more inviting than Windows that I think we'll see a lot of developers shift to working primarily in OS X (Paul Graham had already noted in 2005 that many of his hacker friends were converting to macs).
The calendar syncing is what made me think of this. I'll admit that Apple is very stingy about iTunes/iPods, but, otherwise, they make it quite easy to interact not only with the system but with Apple's own software. AppleScript and Objective C both offer extensive compatibility and command over the components of OS X, iLife, and other Apple software. I doubt, however, that you can sync your mobile device with anything but Outlook in Windows 7. (Note; I'm not saying that Apple doesn't want you to use iCal. I'm saying that it's much easier for a developer to write a quick script to sync with something other than iCal through an OS X interface than it is to do a similar task in Windows).
And... apparently, they're calling themselves Windows Gurus now.
Anyway, I'm really looking forward to seeing MS market share go down. Shareholders? Now is the time to switch to Apple.
You can find more information on Windows 7 here. Since Microsoft just doesn't understand the idea of standards and collaboration, though, I think you'll need to install Microsoft Silverlight to see the videos. I guess Flash or even embedded video just isn't Windowsy enough.
A puzzle for the UK
1 year ago