Windows investigate

Open letter to Microsoft: It's time for a single version of Windows 7

Microsoft has announced that the official launch date of Windows 7 will be October 22. Between now and then, the software juggernaut still has time to fix the product's biggest problem: too many versions. It's time for one version of Windows.

Microsoft has announced that the official launch date of Windows 7 will be October 22. Between now and then, the software juggernaut still has time to fix the product's biggest problem: too many versions. It's time for one version of Windows.

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An Open Letter to Microsoft:

Windows XP did a great thing. It united two operating systems - the Windows 9x codebase and the Windows NT codebase (including Windows 2000). I would argue that the move to unify and standardize on one version of Windows was the primary reason for the almost-universal adoption of Windows XP by businesses, especially in the United States.

Simplification and standardization have always been powerful forces in the technology world, but today they have become even more valuable because buyers are deluged with a flood of choices, even when they have the simplest goals. And, today, the truth is that users and companies don't want to think about the operating system. They simply want the OS to work smoothly and get out of the way.

For the 88% of computer users whose machines are powered by Microsoft Windows, upgrading to the latest version - or even choosing the right computer to buy - got a lot more confusing in 2007 with the release of Windows Vista because it was sold in four versions: Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate.

This was one of the major drawbacks that led to the failure of Vista (I've previously written about the other reasons) and I certainly hoped that this would be one of the mistakes corrected in Windows 7. Unfortunately, it's gotten worse. There are now six planned versions of Windows 7: Starter Edition, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate.

With the official launch of Windows 7 looming on October 22, I would strongly encourage a change of course. Flatten the whole strategy and offer a single version of Windows 7 for $50. There's still time to get this right and doing it has the potential to greatly simplify computing for both consumers and businesses and ultimately increase Windows sales.

The single version of Windows 7 should be based on the operating system that's currently called Home Premium. It's time to bring an end to the division between Windows for the home and Windows for business. While the division existed in Windows XP, and before that in the split between Windows 9x and Windows NT/2000, there's never been a better time to end it because the gray area between the two versions is growing.

The additional business functionality that organizations need for networking and security in large computer networks should be sold separately as an "Enterprise Feature Pack" and tied to the deployment of Windows Server (a completely separate product that is not part of the one version of Windows 7 that I'm suggesting). A lot of the additional functionality in the professional version of Windows is tied to integration with Windows Server, such as Group Policy and domain membership.

Most sizable organizations and their IT departments are going to buy all of this extra business functionality as part of volume licensing agreements such as Software Assurance (just like they do now), so having a single version of Windows 7 wouldn't actually be much of a change for them.

However, it would be a major change for the 5.3 million small businesses in the United States with 20 employees or less (that's 89% of all businesses, according to the U.S. Census Bureau). Small businesses often end up with a mix of the home and professional Windows systems. That's because many of their laptop and desktop machines are purchased from retailers such as Best Buy and Office Depot (and often loaded with the home OS), while others are purchased online from companies such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard and loaded with professional versions of Windows.

These small businesses don't usually have IT departments, but instead rely on tech-savvy managers to wear the IT hat or hire local IT consultants to serve as a resource. As a result, they don't typically have a long-term IT strategy in place and don't always have a good idea of which version of Windows to buy on a new PC - or may not have much choice if they are buying a system at a retail location. Then they have to cobble together a network of machines with different versions of Windows as their business grows and they evolve into a larger company.

But, small businesses aren't the only ones who would benefit from a single version of Windows. As the line between work and personal life continues to blur, it creates a larger gray area where the needs of users can fall between home and professional use.

Full-time telecommuters and employees who work from home part-time are both growing trends, and they involve workers buying their own PCs or using home PCs to access corporate systems. Sometimes these users even get stipends from their employers to purchase their own PCs. Should these users buy systems with the home or professional version of Windows installed? Similarly, we have companies like Citrix that are experimenting with programs that give employees a stipend and allow them to purchase their own computers rather than getting a PC from the company's IT department. These employees face the same dilemma of selecting the right version of Windows for them. It's time to put an end to that confusion.

While I realize that most PCs that are currently running Windows got it pre-installed from a new computer or had it installed in a standardized way by IT, there is the potential for more upgrades than ever with Windows 7. In fact, it has the potential to be the most widely-upgraded Windows of all time, due to the sheer number of users and businesses who either skipped Windows Vista altogether or would like nothing better than to migrate off of it.

In all fairness, the biggest problem with Vista is an image problem - as the Mojave Experiment clearly depicted. Windows 7 is a simpler Windows that actually strips out functionality and applications from Vista in order to make the OS leaner, faster, and a better fit on older hardware. Windows 7 also makes subtle changes under the hood to address some of Vista's sluggishness and bugginess.

As I recently wrote, there's nothing groundbreaking in Windows 7, but the speed and stability improvements will make it an attractive upgrade if only because it does a better job of getting out of the way. With the recession slowing down new PC sales and a U.S. market highly saturated with PCs that are still very useful, the Windows 7 upgrade market could be massive - but only if it's easy to understand for users and simplifies life for businesses. That's why it's time for a single version of Windows 7.

As such, I submit this appeal in the same spirit that Bill Gates did in his Open Letter to Hobbyists in 1976.

Jason Hiner

Editor in Chief, TechRepublic

UPDATED: On Twitter, Rodney Buike pointed out that Microsoft now offers Enterprise and Starter editions of Windows Vista. That means that Vista and Windows 7 both have six versions.

For more insights on Microsoft, Windows 7, and other tech topics, follow my Twitter stream at twitter.com/jasonhiner

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

371 comments
Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

Windows 7 is supposed to be an Operating System, so why is it that a lot of the problems about it and the various versions mostly relate to applications that should NEVER be part of the Operating System itself - things like a web browser, a media player, a mail client, and a firewall - while some variants leave out basic OS things like proper network connectivity components and protocols? Surely it would be a lot easier, cheaper, quicker, and less legally contentious to create the OS as an OS only and then just toss in, or sell as a separate package, a dvd or cd with all the extra applications.

s31064
s31064

I'm definitely not exactly what one would call a Jason Hiner fan, but this column has to be one of the worst I've endured yet. Just more pompous pontifications and Microsoft hate mail. One version of the OS is as ridiculous as Chevy making one model car.

tayker_1
tayker_1

I completely agree it adds to confusion. First one has to decide which version of Windows they want. Then when it comes to admining it and finding solutions to problems makes it worse because what might fix something on Home Basic won't work on Business. For example, why only have gpedit on Ultimate? The bottom line is people ultimately want what is perceived as the best of the OS, i.e. XP Pro or Vista Ultimate. So people will feel jaded for spending what they consider a lot of money and will resort to piracy for the OS they really want. I don't know if MS wants to promote piracy or if they want to justify a $400 price point for an OS that should be no more than $129. I think 1 OS with 1 price point will shrink piracy, grow the shrinking Windows user-base, and make it easier for people to administrate Windows computers because it would be consistent.

Zenith545
Zenith545

"...on one version of Windows was the primary reason for the almost-universal adoption of Windows XP by businesses" Hmmm, at least in the U.S., there was 32-bit XP home and 32-bit XP professional. Then there was XP Media Center Edition, XP tablet PC Edition. At least two 64 bit versions; XP 64-bit bit Edition and XP 64-bit Professional Edition. Maybe I am confusing "editions" with "versions". There were OEM versions, Windows XP Embedded version. 'nuff said

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

Win 7 will only be of concern for about five years due to the stated MS policy of issuing a new OS every five years. And don't forget all support vanishes ten years after release too. So you get to go through it all again in a few years time.

rpolunsky
rpolunsky

One example: Home editions have no equivalent of Local Security Policy or Group Policy so there is no simple way to temporarily disable then re-enable a user account - such as an employee (small business) or a child (home situation). The workaround is REALLY ugly on this. That's a good example of the gray area.

sidsayed
sidsayed

I always preferred buying the professional or business version of windows for the greater functions it offered when compared to the home version. I think its time for a single version, and I couldn't agree more.

MikeGall
MikeGall

make my life easy. I know with XP I had issues when someone would be using their personal computer at work and they'd have a problem and ask for remote assistance. One sec while I remote desktop, or use the admin tool, oh crap you don't have that feature :-) I don't think management stuff should be an extra feature ... too many people use personal computers for work stuff and should be able to get support if needed (assuming the company policy allows that, the OS shouldn't get in the way of me helping a director out when he calls me from home). That said with Vista and now Windows 7 the product line has gotten larger. People that say there is only one version of Mac OS X (at least for client machines) are correct. However, in my opinion Vista Media Ultimate/Premium adds features you don't get out of the box with OS X. It is more like an OS X + iLife. So it makes sense either to have another version of the OS or to have a seperate product like Apple does. Here's the problem for MS: most people that actually end up paying for Windows get it preinstalled. If it would be a second product it would be yet another check box that the customer would have to select on a web form or check for during purchase. It is easier for people to understand that "Ultimate" is better than "Basic". That said, I suspect a lot of people buy a discount machine thinking it is a great deal only to get it home and realize that it doesn't come with the media centre stuff (or as in the early days Aero). My two version solution: home: everything for management, local backups possibly media centre stuff (or role it out as a separate product a la Apple). Business: everything home has + remote policy based backups, support for software pushes and AD.

dbpreston
dbpreston

One Windows !! is the way To Go !!! Come On M.s. !!! Lets Keep It Simple and Easy !!!

kgunnIT
kgunnIT

I could settle for two versions, a Home Premium and an Enterprise. The difference: Home Premium with all the little nic-nacs for home entertainment while the Enterprise trims the home entertainment out and adds more business-oriented tools such as full IIS support, group policies, etc. Or, get it all down to 1 version with an easy-access Feature Control in the Control Panel that allows you to quickly turn things off. I know previous versions have allowed you to Add/Remove Windows Features, but maybe add more control to what features can be removed for the business. Microsoft really needs to consider this. One of the joys about the Mac OS is simply this: there's 1 version. All of the features in Mac OS X are included in Mac OS X. When a user buys a Mac, they don't have to consider what OS they are to get with the features they want, they purchase Mac OS X with their machine. The same should be for Windows also. Home users go out and buy a computer with Windows, and they get Windows 7. All of the features are in Windows 7. Again, not having to figure out what features they want and what version fits them best.

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

You are involved in running a business as high king mucky muck editor. Microsoft is a business and everything they do is for them and only incidently for their customers. Since they are a monopoly (virtually) they can get away with it. Take a hard look at their past actions, the product roadmaps and the way they are eyeing subscription and cloud computing. Now slap yourself and re-think that title. Microsoft's whole goal is to squeeze everyone. I worked their and minus the background set of gleaming buildings etc. it is one of the most rapacious environments I have been in; they eat their young. I put up with it for awhile, but their actions have become too egrigous for me to stomach. That is why I am moving to Linux and "The Mac" (as Mac fanatics say it). At this point people can only vote with their feet. I am willing at this point to put up with the minor teething problems of Linux; Lord knows I put up with more crap from Microsoft over the years. You guys can go merrily about re-arranging the deck chairs, arguing over the niggling details of a bad situation, while I find a lifeboat.

eludeman30
eludeman30

Windows 7 fried my video card, my TV tuner card, and while my system still runs under Vista, I won't trust Win7 until it's final release. Along with a full list of supported hardware. Call me naive, but I thought MS got this one right. By the by you need an enterprise version, and a home version. The two just don't coincide.

The Horse
The Horse

*sniff*. That was beautiful, man. I can definitely get behind the one-version, one price concept. It just makes sense. Think of the good will alone something like that would generate.

enquiries
enquiries

i disagree with Jason for once. This kind of thinking only results from an inability to really understand just how much the vast majority don't understand Windows. YOU NEED A BASIC, STRIPPED BACK VERSION!! From there it's a matter of debate, but i'd reduce it to premium and enterprise. Premium is basically how windows is now minus some things that only Enterprise users really need (e.g. modular authentication, IPsec).

slslusher
slslusher

Definetly too many versions. Six will only make even more confusing. I hope Microsoft takes notice and narrows them down. I'm really getting tired of have to try and figure out the best one for people is do consulting for. There's no reason to have so many.

jhildeman
jhildeman

I couldn't agree more!!! Get rid of the home versions they suck!

tvmuzik
tvmuzik

I strongly believe MS should cut the all that unnecessary "eye-candy" BS and go back to Practicality, the way Win95 and 98 were back in the day... Keep up with newer technologies, but leave out all the bloated junk-- and quit tryin to sell us with Eye-candy. Until then, I'm stayin with XP.

AndreJonker
AndreJonker

I wonder how one could convince Microsoft that a $50 single version would sell better. The US aside, I guess most of the world would welcome simple and affordable software licensing.

unni_kcpm
unni_kcpm

It's Really a Nice & Great idea for whatever be the percentage of non-geeks(atleast) of Computer World. Atlast any sort of confusion(s) can be avoided at best and 'value for money' option too.

MPG187
MPG187

Windows XP was bad enough with Home and Pro, then M$ goes makes makes too many versions of Vista. How about one version that does everything you need whether you are a home or business user? lol at that old Mac commercial "Choose a Vista" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxLgBx3W9Ss And Starter is joke, only 3 programs, wtf

john3347
john3347

I don't have a good idea of actual percentages of users that fall into my needs, but I am a lone user of several computers on my home network. (Upstairs, downstairs, one in the garage, one in the workshop, laptop, etc.) Nobody but me ever uses any of these computers. I have my Windows Home server network which works well...........BUT!!!! The multi-user bloat that consumes all my computers (mix of XP Pro, XP MCE, and one (yuck) Vista) is nothing but a time waster and confusion generator for my needs. Give me an OS written for ONE user!!! Or would it not be practical to offer the single version that you suggest with the choice offered at user's first boot "do you want this computer to accomodate multiple users?" If the answer were "no", all of the extra code that involves multiple users would be disabled. What, A modular OS ???? p.s. The suggestion that Microsoft offer an OS for $50 is a waste of ink and time. Maybe if I were a mass marketer, I could buy an OS for that price, but not as an individual consumer.

bofcarbon1
bofcarbon1

I think it is all about Microsoft looking for ways to nickel and dime as many people as possible. It's nice for a mainframe developer like me learning .NET to have IIS 7.0 server capability so I can develop and migrate web apps. Everything done on one machine scaled down. Yes the difference begins in doing things like windows authentication on a domain with multiple servers. One operating system is a good idea but watch out because Microsoft may decide then that one very simple version be left forcing all of us interested in becoming web app developers to buy additional software. It should include all options but yes let us turn on options that the average person doesn't care about.

jkress
jkress

ABSOLUTELY!!! One version makes total sense.

Beoweolf
Beoweolf

At least none that I can see. In summary, simply put - different versions of the "umbrella" known as Vista, Windows 7 or XP are required to deal with the realities of networking in different parts of the world. The old days of win95, DOS are over, there is a new world out there which must incorporate IPv6, IPv4 and the reality that these technologies will co-exist for a while. As an international corporation, Microsoft would be accused of racism, Nationalism, colonialism if it wrote off segments of the market. Instead of recognizing their effort at inclusion - they continue to be vilified. As I mentioned in posts above; on one hand some accusers complain about code bloat, monopolistic, predatory designs to limit innovation (innovation can be good or bad - when it comes to secure networking. IE. wireless technology). Others complain that versions are undessarily "crippled"; without recognition of the many and varied system platforms these products 'may' have to service or being installed on. There is a series of court cases winding through the system that address this issue. What exactly is the difference between windows-capable and windows-ready? Should client Operating systems expectations of speed/perfomance be legislated? What happens if those expections, based on system price and specifications, are unlikely to be realized without additional components being installed. The EU wants to dictate what can and cannot be included in versions sold within its domain. Yet complain when the reality of those implications are revealed. Microsoft is not totally blameless and I agree, they should be regulated to some degree. However, attempting to dictate how many versions they should sell, what features they are allowed to include in the OS or attempting to dictate the price they "should" set for those versions of one step beyond. As a former Main frame advocate its difficult for me to defend Microsoft, however I do so because even they have found that centralized control, setting standards and incorporating recognition of the benefits and limitations of heterogeneous networks must be taken into account ... until legacy standards can be supplanted, removed.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

By OS I mean the very definition of OS; Kernel. The network filter rules should be implemented at the very lowest level in the kernel as done with Linux and BSD kernels. Iptables is part of the OS not the libraries outside of it or the user space wrapped around that. Things like a web browser, media player and such should be limited to user space and could easily be provided as separate programs rather than fully integrated to the point where removal is impossible. Before other's take offense; sure, these things add functions that are expected with a preinstall these days. Cars are similar, you kind of need windshield wipers to safely leave the dealership. One can remove and fully replace those blades with better qualities ones after that though. You can't fully replace IE, Media Player and such though. Selling them as after market addons may not work either though if Windows95 Plus is any indication. Remember that little gem we could purchase to add in? It also included functions that should have been included in the base install disk though. No reason they couldn't have them as optional components on the install disk. The lack of optional components versus forced installs was a reason I started learning other platforms though so I guess I should thank them for that.

darpoke
darpoke

People continue to trawl out this analogy as though it's seamless. No, it's not like Chevy making one model of car. It's more like Chevy making all the models of car that they currently do - and not telling anyone what the differences are between them. Perhaps the dealers and and consumers who happen to be mechanics will know how to differentiate. The vast majority of the public, though, are forced to pick a lane - and buy a whole new vehicle when it transpires that what they chose only a gastank large enough to hold 3 miles of fuel. If this sounds ridiculous, that's because deliberately crippling a product to artificially create a lower pricepoint is exactly that.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

should have got ultima in the first place and have to buy a new licence at full retail. hell, when you look at cars all the operational aspects are there and you get a list that shows all the bells and whistles with notes on what they do and which has what. Anyone seen such a cross list for Vista or Win 7 anywhere? If so please post the url.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

XP so they could have only one version of a desktop OS running within their organisation. prior to that many had mixed sets with some systems running Windows for Workgroups (NT 4 based desktop), Win 2000, Win 98 - which they were able to replace the lot with Win XP as it did all the extras the others did in the one OS.

Beoweolf
Beoweolf

Mac is/was a system. It was both the platform and the OS; and it was expensive. If they really wanted your business, they would have found a way to produce a consumer-oriented version, which people could afford. Consequently, they lost market share and became an afterthought when the PC revolution took off. Step two, they refused to license either the platform or break out the OS until the market had passed them by ... still the "faithful" want to rewrite history, as if business stupid were some kind of holy calling. Fast forward to today; Windows emulation is cornerstone for the continued existence of Apple desktops and more than a little - is the reason it has made any inroads to corporate culture, except in specialized applications. Even it hardware has changed, a mix of Intel based chips and Intel-based consortium processors has replaced the previous Apple specific processors. You can still claim that Apple is somehow "different" but just how different is it if it runs windows emulation? Reminds me of the Balkanization that led to all the wars; after many generations of sharing all the fundamentals, just who is different is real difficult to determine. The Wars are based more on memory rather than discernable differences that anyone can independently prove. This article originally was based on viability of "one version of Windows 7", yet in an effort to manufacture relevance for Apple or xUnix, the roaches crawl out of the woodwork, seeking an audience for their boutique, tres chic devices, why, I can only guess; - my best guess! ? just to let us all know that no matter what, they have survived despite the odds and demand recognition for adept scurrying, instead of corporate relevance. I?ll give them credit for being part of a minor miracle; can we hear a round of applause for the survivors. ...Clap.

Beoweolf
Beoweolf

Personally, I agree with using Business version, however, I was not aware it was for sale as a commercial, shrink-wrapped version. The closest is Vista Ultimate, isn't it. Still the issue I find when providing the 'average' user with a lot of buttons, switches and options - they tend to push, select, adjust things ... whether they know what they are doing or not. Any Technician that has been in the business for longer than a week has come to fear that help desk call which devolves into finding that despite all the claims of honesty "I didn't touch anything, it just stopped working". Once you get into the diagnostics - one of two thing are quickly revealed. A.) The caller did screw with something he shouldn't have. 2.) He (invariably its a guy) did something on the company machine that he was afraid to do on his home machine, figuring if he screwed it up, he could call you to repair it. That is why so many Administrators are keen to "lockdown" the desktops, remove access to anything (menus, selections, passwords or feature) the consumer does not absolutely need to perform his assigned tasks. SMS, SCCM and whole businesses (like CA) are built on restricting user access to desktop areas or built-in features which they do not have authorization nor reasons to use. Its harsh, but preventing desktop meddling is the best first step to improving uptime for desk tops.

santeewelding
santeewelding

As though you have your own ideal OS written, smoothed out, and in the wings, ready to deploy. Do you?

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

1. MS do NOT give a damn about legacy issue. They intentionally make changes to do away with a lot of legacy issue and stop older gear from working with the newer operating system. hell, they even release service packs that deliberately kill off and block what they see as legacy versions of their own software. So that isn't a valid point here. 2. The real point is Windows is supposed to be an Operating System and a fully functional OS at that. Yet they arbitrarily make versions without full functionality because they decide you shouldn't need that functionality in a home environment. 3. They get into trouble fro deliberately bundling applications within the OS kernel that shouldn't be there at all. they are applications and should NOT be part of the OS. 4. The variations they give in the versions are partly due to including some OS functions, but mostly due to which fancy applications they bundle in with it. 5. Bloat. A large part of it is the applications they stick in the OS instead of writing them as separate applications and providing them separately (as they used to). Another significant part is they do not regularly rewrite the kernel to be more modern and work faster with the modern system, they just add on a bit of extra code as an overlay. A rewrite would make the kernel faster and more secure and reduce the size a lot. But they don't do it. 6. The only complaints from the EU about insisting the applications be stripped out of the OS causing trouble has been because MS also stripped out basic OS services at the same time simply to cause trouble. 7. Others can write good OSs within the needed requirement using the proper standards and legacy standards, yet MS (supposedly the biggest and best) have major troubles doing so. A bit odd that. ........... Again, I say, they should be selling the OS as an OS, not as a bundle of applications built into various levels of crippled OSs.

adraskovic
adraskovic

... actually, I think that s31064 got his point. Does it mean, that eg. BMW should sell all of it's cars for a price of a cheapest modell? Well, I would like to see that - it would be nice to have Z4 Roadster for a price of ? 15,000. More editions are ok - I don't have to buy ? 300 if I really don't need all of the features of an Ultimate Edition. More editions gives us an freedom of the choice. And if someone can't tell a difference between editions, what a hell... That's why there are people that can and they're paid for that... ;) Greetz, Aleks

Beoweolf
Beoweolf

There are also upgrade packages, with discounts, to bring OS from Vista Starter (available only in developing markets) or any of the other versions, which will take Vista (or XP) up to Ultimate, if your system has the Huevos, cojones, pelotas to run it. MS has even provided a "free" program, which you can run against your setup, which will tell the consumer which versions of Vista or Windows 7 will run comfortably on any platform. If you buy a less expensive machine, without researching what it is that you are buying - its a personal issue. No one, in good conscious gets to claim ignorance as an excuse any more. The amount of product information available online is overwhelming in depth, detail and comparisons among versions, brands products. I do not even buy a pizza without checking out at least a few options. For an item, which I'll spend from $500, $100 or more, it?s just common sense, its worth taking a little time to investigate what you are buying ? just as it is to choose which version iPod to buy or Which Mac to, laptop or desktop; how much memory, disc space. Very few systems are sold as once size fits all? not even Apple. Have you even looked in en.wikipedia.org? They may not be a reliable research resource, but it better than just throwing your hands up in the air and claiming, "There is no information out there". If Consumers wish to assert they have a right to (full disclosure) information, they also must accept they have an obligation to take advantage of available resources, research ... before ... claiming they did not know. The Truth is out there! - Fox M.

kgunnIT
kgunnIT

I don't think it is necessary to produce a consumer-version to gain market share. Sure, the Mac OS/system is a little more expensive, but I don't think they need to make two versions of their OS for consumers. Reality is Microsoft has lost some business because of their many failures with Vista, one being the many versions. One of the advantages of keeping a closed house on the system and OS for Apple is compatibility. Again, some of Microsoft's issues and compatibility wars has been the fact that there are so many version of hardware and systems, some of which handle well with Windows, and some that just can't do it. Apple, there's only one system, and they know there OS works on it. Sure, it might have limited their market share. It has also limited the number of bug reports and compatibility issues. In any case, Microsoft really needs to trim to one OS for consumer-sake.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

many variants of Unix and Linux out there. The Operating System is supposed to be what you put on the computer to allow you to use applications to do things. It goes between the hardware and the applications. If the OS is designed right, and application should be able to operate on virtually any hardware and any operating system. But companies wanting to lock people in to their software make deliberate decisions to make them not right in certain critical areas to limit the applications usable on their OS to just their OS and no other. Thus, the need for different versions of applications per OS. In the Open Systems Interconnection Reference Model there are seven layers - the operating system is supposed to facilitate the Transport and Session layers while including the hardware interface for the computer itself. With the common usage of a Graphics User Interface (which is the Presentation layer) most OSs now incorporate the GUI as part of the OS.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

If the wireless management is like Vista then it'll take some getting used too. I had a notebook that needed a simply change; WPA flipped over to WPA2. Of course, the connection didn't detect the difference. When I opened the list of known networks, I couldn't simply delete it and have it redetect all the settings. When I did figure out how to edit it and change the encryption, was there a simply "connect" button; nope, that would be logical. Instead, I had to back out of the account settings and run a stupid overly graphic "radar ping" display. Why it had to be that complicated, I don't know. It could also have been some stupid vendor specific utility that replaces the Windows included connections manager. I'm open to that as after fifteen minutes of trying to perform what is a simply task on every other OS; I wasn't touching that machine any more than I had to for it's own safety. I do like change when it improves efficiency or user experience. It's when it comes at the expense of simple basic functions that I take issue. This was also a Vista install though I'm assuming win7 inherits the network management from it.

adraskovic
adraskovic

... WinXP is 8 years old OS. Things have changed since then. ;) Try home networking with Windows 7 - it's completely another story. Anyway, ICS makes (at least to me) today not so much sense - you do get today routers for few $. Less electricity consumption and less noise ;) Greetz, Aleks

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

" For me, the answer is maybe 3 out of 50 will peak my interest and maybe one will actually be of any use. Eventually even that one will be deleted when I find a decent commercial application, from a known vendor who does QA/QC and stands behind the product. I may be paranoid, but much of the free or shareware that is floating around the net scares the snot out of me. " This demonstrates that you don't really know much about FOSS or the difference between Open Source and Closed Source or Freeware and Shareware licenses in comparison. There is bad software in all categories. Freeware only insures that the software has no cost though probably it's closed source also. Shareware only insures that you get to try it first. Open Source insures that the source is available though it may not be free of cost. Pay only software only insures that you can't legally get a copy without purchasing it. Non of that on it's own represents quality. If you've found nothing but bad freeware and shareware you've had some pretty bad luck. If your purchased software has universally been gold metal quality you've been remarkably lucky in that regard. Truecrypt is available at no cost; it must be complete crap then right? SSL is available at no cost and the source is available; obviously https, pop3s, smtps, ssh, scp, sftp, sshfs and all those certs protecting your systems through openSSL encryption must be crap. You better run out and replace those with something you had to pay for. That whole closed source and license cost always being better quality offering a higher trust level must be why cryptography research favors source and formula transparency and peer review then. Naturally, that must also be why BSD is such a popular server platform for internet facing self defending systems. CIFS is a component of Windows; it's closed source and you pay for it through your OS license fee. That must be why it's so safe and secure being a clear-text protocol which sprays the user's name and password all over the network. Windows itself is a much safer system to use of course which is why it still allows users to run as Administrator and Administrator to be setup with no password. Still have NetBIOS null sessions available on your network; do you know what information that leaves wide open to anyone interested? I've had to pay for many computer games; why have they not been the pinnacle of production quality? In short, the idea that something is of better quality or applicability to the use just because you had to pay for it is a gross and blatant falicy. With physical products there is some basis for it because there is an inherent cost for the resources to produce it. With software, cost is not an inherent requirement for a developer to produce high quality work. With software available only through purchase, it becomes more suspect because you can't ignore the fact that the ultimate goal of the business is profit and between profit and quality, the latter will always be second place. Even a software company producing very high quality work will be forced to choose profit over quality when the times get tough. Don't get hung up on the software license as the only indication of. (I do use closed and purchased software where applicable so please don't suggest it's simply a software hippie complaining about ideology here.)

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

.. just not really applicable to the topic of the thread. The comment I replied too suggested that including support for connecting into the AD server could only be done by increasing the cost of the OS license: "I just think that we've given a choice. Otherwise we would complain that we have to pay 200-300 EUR for features we don't need or want." (I wonder if "I just thing that we've given choice." was miss-typing or an MS staffer responding. Not the point here though.) My response is that the function could be included on the client side at no cost properly designed as an optional component. It's already developed and a fee is being charged for the server side already. It's a feature that was intentionally removed rather than intentionally added. It's not like it should even raise the absorbent cost of a server license (shopping for a server currently, the price is anything but reasonable but lock-in has it's benefits doesn't it). This is where you jump in with a snide quote and suggesting that anyone who is critical of Microsoft falls into two groups only; the everything for free folk or the bloated OS folk. One can't be critical of Microsoft while being somewhere in the middle; that's just outrageous. So, to keep on the topic of the thread and your toll analogy; you feel it is acceptable to charge a driver at the start and end of each city block for the privileged of exiting and entering that street? Here's my fair to enter the street, here's my fair to exit the street; oh, I've crossed the lights, here's my fee to enter the next street, here's my fee to exit that same street. This double billing would never be acceptable to drivers yet you claim it should be accepted without question in the case of software? Then some crap about individuals who are critical of Microsoft not having valid complaints because they are not universally expressing the same points and wording? You do realize that many here are developers and/or people with long histories in computers who can tell the difference between an included feature and a bloated bolt-on? Many can differentiate between the OS and the applications on top along with various layers within each; this is not breaking news for you? My mistake, I don't know how I could have seen your response as an intent to confuse the thread and ignore the point I was making. Now, your second post is all over the place compared to the thread but I'll give it a detailed read over later. In skimming it, I will pull this one part out now: " To pick the one that is most asinine, in my opinion is questions about why would someone pay for a client OS, when there is a free one available? I can only think the reasons are obvious ? free is only a bargain, if it suits your purposes. Otherwise, it?s just more trash to be disposed of. As an example; Just how many of the ?Free? utilities, applications, games and shareware included with most packaged Linux/Unix distros do you actually use? " I'll clarify encase there is confusion. If your suggesting that I demand Windows Workstation be at no cost; your mistaken. By "client", I've meant the bit of code that enables the OS connection into the AD server not the client side OS itself. This is a feature that was intentionally removed not intentionally added; it's a network card binding like the Netware client or PPoE client. Both sides are required; you have to have the AD client installed on your client OS and the AD service running on your server OS. It's a single function but it's ok to bill me twice for that single function? If the AD client can be installed into the versions of Windows that don't ship with it by default then that's another thing entirely. If those intentionally lesser versions are unable to adopt the function and thus force purchasing a second full license and install media just to add that function; that's just blatantly pumping the customer. Let's move on through this paragraph of yours. I love how offering the consumer choice is considered a disadvantage to them unless it's Microsoft's seudo-choice. Your complaint is that a full distribution's install media includes the software to build a server of varying needs, a workstation of varying needs or any combination inbetween? Because a user may not use some of that softare, it's obsurd that it should be available? Hm.. well, I like the text editor "Joe" where other's like "Vim" and yet other's like "Nano". That doesn't make the other two crap because I prefer the first but you suggest it does. I like KDE for my needs but the install media also provides Gnome, Enlightenment and other window managers but again, it's a disadvantage for the consumer to be allowed to choose right? Being able to use the same install disk to produce various installs based on there specific needs is just plain madness that shouldn't be tolerated? After all, it's added options not dictated feature sets; who would want that. When it's Windows the argument is "it's better because a lot of software runs on it" but with a Linux or BSD based distribution "it's worse because it provides access to a lot of software that runs on it". A full distribution install offers you choice and you cry about having access to software though your not forced to install it. Windows intentionally limits your selection of available software and forces the install of unwanted software and you thank them profusely. Nice. (Actually, a Microsoft network repository is one of the things I frequently suggest would improve the user experience with Windows but business culture wouldn't allow it.) Enough of my typing for now. I'll wrap it up by simply asking how you benefit. You seem very offended by anyone suggesting the consumer have more choice within the product rather than various unclear levels of product. Wouldn't you as a consumer also benefit from having a more modular install or less price points? Do you have any real basis for comparison on which to develop your opinion; are you equally comfortable administrating multiple platforms inside and out of the Microsoft SKU list. I ask because your profile provides no background beyond an early joining date (2000) and your writing sounds very much like someone who is experienced with Windows but little else; bit of a lopsided basis for comparison if that's the case. Do you take your alias from the poem or from the cluster? I suspect the former based on your hostility of anything related remotely to the latter.

Beoweolf
Beoweolf

http://www.vista123.net/content/windows-7-vs-vista-sp1-vs-xp-sp3-%E2%80%93-feature-comparison http://blogs.zdnet.com/hardware/?p=3236&page=2 http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft/?p=3035 My one, overriding disagreement with this thread as well as with the majority of complaints against Microsoft clients is despite the claim that Microsoft harms competition, there is no real consensus on exactly what it doing that is so wrong! For every complaint about code bloat, there is another complaint about why there are crippled versions which are not full featured (and 1/2 priced or free), yet another complaint about why freedom of choice is a bad thing ? then another about cost, installation, support for legacy (underpowered 1990 vintage systems). Finally there are the eager beavers who want the whole world to use Apple, cause its "cool", Linux or Unix, because its Free. What they all are say is - anything except Microsoft ... so, say that and quit trying to hide behind ridiculous, circular logic which is obvious and transparent. To pick the one that is most asinine, in my opinion is questions about why would someone pay for a client OS, when there is a free one available? I can only think the reasons are obvious ? free is only a bargain, if it suits your purposes. Otherwise, it?s just more trash to be disposed of. As an example; Just how many of the ?Free? utilities, applications, games and shareware included with most packaged Linux/Unix distros do you actually use? For me, the answer is maybe 3 out of 50 will peak my interest and maybe one will actually be of any use. Eventually even that one will be deleted when I find a decent commercial application, from a known vendor who does QA/QC and stands behind the product. I may be paranoid, but much of the free or shareware that is floating around the net scares the snot out of me. Believe it or not, most MS users are well aware of the transgressions that are Microsoft, but on balance ? we see more benefit using MS products than scouring the net for some free ?pig in a poke? bundle of scripts provided by someone selling software out of the trunk of his car. In a few words - No matter how good it looks, I am not about to consume a candy bar that is found floating in a cess pool ? call me, over civilized, or lacking in frontier verve, not very adventurous ? yes, that?s true ? I admit that I am and unapologetically secure in that decision. Other comments about the burdens being foisted on MS? These in response to EU edicts which seek to require MS to unbundle IE internet explorer from their Client OS. (Note: in my estimation ? this is the real reason for Microsoft accelerating the release of Windows 7. Not because Vista deserves the reputation it has received, but because Internet Explorer was an integral part of it; now, with the release of Windows 7, they had a clean slate to configure it without IE. Now EU has nothing to complain about. ?? Well, good for MS. I guess you decided to make lemonade from the lemons the EU is providing. To ensure fairness, can we expect the EU to force Linux distros to unbundle Firefox? Apple to unbundle Safari? Android (Real, others) to unbundle Chrome? Or is this in fact about remaking the market in the EU's image by allowing competitors unfettered ability to do what only MS is restricted from doing?...? ? ? I am (embarrassingly) a European citizen, and think that this is stupid pointless bureaucracy. BUT *worse* this is unjust and unfair as Microsoft is being prosecuted and forced to take these stupid steps and yet Apple are still permitted to bundled their browser with their operating system! Also how are you supposed to 'chose' a browser if you cant browse the internet, if there is no built in browser? Stupid EU. ??

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

A toll road is not a direct comparison. It costs a great deal to maintain roads and the theory is that those tolls go towards that maintenance. Physical world is different from digital world after all. The other thing is to ask if these premium features can be added as needed to lesser licenses or will one need to purchase a full upgrade to a higher license just to gain a network client. It must be magic which allows Novel Netware's client to simply install as an additional binding on the NIC then. You also neglect to address the question; why is it justifiable to double bill the customer? What "value add" is gained by billing for the AD server license and the AD server client when both are under the same ownership and one is of no use without the other? the software market is far from a healthy market governed by natural consumer forces. You oversimplify by suggesting that MS success is only based on doing more good than harm. Don't cherry pick extreme views just to confuse the thread. It's not a one extreme versus the other for all of us.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

simple and easy ability to share files on a peer-to-peer network, to access a file server on the network, to share an internet connection, and to easily connect to a router providing dhcp services. try setting up a basic p2p file sharing between two Win XP Home systems with a shred internet connection - not easy. Do it on two Win XP pro machines, minutes only. Ditto with file sharing.

Beoweolf
Beoweolf

Its not that ridiculous. More highways are being built with either toll roads or HOV lanes. So to address your analogy, why should "they" do that, it doesn't hurt them to allow regular (non-HOV or non-paying drivers) on the toll roads or in the HOV lanes. I'm sure they are reasonable enough to move over if the lane gets full. this discussion seems to toggle between both extremes. One group if MS haters wants all the bells and whistles on every OS - whether the consumer needs it or wants it. Then other MS haters complain, seems its bloated, requires too much memory, takes up too much disk space and oops - its too complicated. Beside, everyone - except them - is to stupid to understand the idea of making a choice. These self-confessed Wizkids don't have a cohesive argument ... other than to trumpet, endlessly; anything - except Microsoft! Unfortunately, the rest of the world has made a choice and its Microsoft, the Demononic force that has single handedly brought some amount of order to what used to be the wild frontier of the internet. Its an American tradition to root for the underdog - I accept that and do so myself. But the fact is some underdogs are running second best because they do not have anything better to offer. The market does reward those that produce, on balance; MS does more good than it does bad - thats enough reason to reward them by purchasing their products.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Why cripple the OS against AD connection in the first place? You'll have to pay for Server and your AD seat licenses so MS gets there money. Why should they then turn around and double bill you on the client side also? They could include AD connectivity as it's no cost to them to leave it in the client OS. They still make there money off the server OS license. This is like the ISPs wanting to charge you for your internet usage then charge the website you are connecting to for the privileged of sending you data. If they are already charging you for the transfer, what justifies charging the webserver side for that same data transfer? Do you pay to gas your car up and then pay again for how much fuel flows through the carb? Should you pay for a car with seatbelts and then pay a service charge each time you do it up? Maybe car keys should be limited to a single use so you can purchase a fresh "license" key each day before going out to head off for work? Why is it justifiable to cripple the client OS creating a crippled version to charge for in addition to charging for the box it's going to be connecting too? Also, who is to say that a home user isn't going to use an AD server? What's to say that Microsoft's Home Server isn't going to include an AD component? At worse, they could include the AD client protocol pack with AD server so at least it can be installed on the client OS if needed. As it is now, they've intentionally removed the ability to add an AD client into the desktop OS.

adraskovic
adraskovic

What do you assume under "proper networking capabilities"? Ability to join a domain? Why would a home user have a need for something like that? Windows 7 brings a whole new level of home networking that's easy to setup and use even for non-techies. And if I don't need to authenticate myself against AD, why should I pay for it anyway? I just think that we've given a choice. Otherwise we would complain that we have to pay 200-300 EUR for features we don't need or want. Best regards, Aleks

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

like a spare tyre or a fuel tank? A modern operating system without proper networking capability, yeah right, that' s not a modern OS, but according to MS it is.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

what MS should have as one of the first pages of their web site on Vista. However, the only cross list I saw on the Vista wiki article was to do with hardware needs for Vista ready and Vista capable, not on what features are on what option. Please state the URL, the one I found was: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Vista If you choose a version based on hardware you're going about things the wrong way as it should be based on the functionality you need. I also liked the bit that Vista 64 bit will NOT accept a device driver that is not digitally signed as approved by MS, so only device drives by people who've paid MS for access to the codes can have their drivers loaded on the system. No wonder there's a shortage of 64 bit device drivers for Vista it limits them to MS approved only, regardless of if they'll work or not. I love the final paragraph, since when have MS given full disclosure? Answer is never. The do not disclose the built in back doors at all.