Article: Windows 7 is Important

by on October 30, 2008

While browsing the Internet yesterday, I came across Ars Technica’s look at Windows 7 and have to say that I’m slightly surprised and a bit happy with the development. No, I won’t be dumping my Mac anytime soon to pick up a shiny Dell or Toshiba, but Windows 7 may be beneficial to the Mac platform and here’s why:

Windows 7 is the make-or-break OS for Microsoft and by making numerous things more Mac-like, Apple must respond to stay competitive.

Although OS X is still a much more robust, secure, and uncluttered operating system, Windows 7 has some interface tweaks to bring Windows near a similar level. The taskbar has gotten more Dock-like, Gadgets can now be positioned anywhere on the screen, there’s something a bit like Exposé, and something a bit like Smart Folders. Is it bad that Microsoft “borrowed” some things from Apple? Yes and no.

Many things will improve the Windows experience, so that people aren’t still sticking with Windows XP. This is a good thing for many people who have to use a PC at work and want something that is modern, yet not full of interface clutter. I’ve found that Vista can be annoying and gaudy, but runs fairly decently. Fix some inconsistencies, make things more convenient, and you have a version of Windows people may actually not hate using.

Unfortunately, this also gives people the idea that OS X and Windows 7 are the same because they have visual similarities. We had this happen with almost every version of Windows where the uninformed user will start to think that Apple copied Microsoft because the person learned about some feature on Windows first. If you look back, there have been a few times Apple took a good idea from someone else, but Microsoft’s been to blame quite a bit more. It just bugs me when people say that the Windows taskbar was around before the Dock, yet it existed on NeXT machines since the ’80s. Same goes with Widgets/Gadgets — Konfabulator did not create them — anyone remember Desk Accessories in System 6 or 7?

What will Windows 7 change? Probably not much. Unlike the time around huge launch of Windows 95, which was a big deal and essential for some, Microsoft has had a rough decade—antitrust cases, viruses, spyware, bloated software, Vista being a joke, and the list continues. The perception that XP is just good enough probably won’t go away anytime soon, but I’m hoping Windows 7 does catch on. That will force Apple to keep improving and working to keep Mac OS X one step ahead of Windows.

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