% fortune -ae paul murphy

Confronting Windows 7 at home

Last Monday I received this email from Michael E. Jordan - I thought it made a lot of sense and suggested he get community response by letting me use it as "my" blog entry for today.

He agreed, and he's also going to be monitoring reader comments... ---

Dear Mr. Murphy,

Re: Reviewing Windows 7

I read this article (and a few others) with some interest and with an eye on discerning if Windows 7 may be worth my time or patience or money. I found the articles well written and a good mix of Pro's and Con's concerning the software. The article and links hit all the "Why we disliked Vista themes", squarely on the head, yet misses one very important consideration (maybe two if you include enterprise sales). I'm not a Microsoft hater and have seriously considered Vista, yet can't see how this makes sense to me or to the average home user. Everything I have is running on a Windows platform, all with Microsoft software.

Here is the big question I've seen nobody address and really have seen no one attempt to answer.

Who is this version of Windows targeted to sell to? In other words, what compelling reason exists to make me or any consumer (who is more than the average home user) run out and buy this new Operating system? I'm confused as to why I should even consider it as a replacement for any of my machines. Lets see. (without major investments in all the devices on my home network)....

If I buy Windows 7 (What - Super Vista?), I will have the same issues with drivers, accessories, updates and peripherals that I would have with the current Vista offering. My computer exceeds the average system requirements (3.06 GHz process or, 3 Gb Ram etc), but none of my printer drivers are compatible, none of my usb devices have Vista drivers, my digital camera isn't compatible and has no Vista drivers, my video card is not Vista capable (Dual VGA output, dual screen), my customized Windows style keyboard does not have updated drivers, and my 5.1 surround sound system card from Creative Labs does not have Vista drivers. They all work flawlessly with Windows XP Professional though. That is on one of my 6 computers. Neither of my laptops is rugged enough to run it, my web server can't run it, my wife's desktop won't run it, my wireless Home music device isn't compatible, virtually none of the other devices attached to my home network can be recognized by Vista (or by Super Vista - Windows 7). My web server run Windows 2000 Professional and has absolutely no issues to deal with except to run it.

In order to be able to just install and run this one OS on any one of my systems the TCO (Total cost of Ownership) would be staggering. This is just to make the OS run and I haven't even considered the impact on the software on any of my systems. Imagine how a CTO of a medium sized company would answer the question from the CEO... "What would the TCO be to update our company to Windows 7?". Confusing pricing strategies don't even make it to the top of the list, once you start to investigate all the other issues. So to be clear and if I understand the issues clearly and correctly, it isn't targeted at the Power user, can't be seriously considered right now for Enterprise volume licenses, isn't really an upgrade product for older (2003 and prior) machines, is a break from how Windows operates with XP and prior versions, and has serious implications for millions (or hundreds or thousands, depending on whom you believe) of pieces of software that run flawlessly on Windows/XP and prior versions, then pray tell who is this OS going to be sold to? Someone who has one computer, who just checks email and surfs the internet? As the OS replacement for a new computer purchase? As the OS of choice for college students to play music and games? To a brand new computer user who won't have to re-learn how to use a computer? Of all computer users, how can they seriously think this will attract mass-consumption?

I don't have any need for self-flagellation, so it must not be targeted at me. I would have to win the mega million dollar lottery and then hire a software consultant, a personal geek to fix everything it breaks and then literally spend thousands of dollars to be able to even think about doing this. This is the part I don't get. You think the public was disappointed with Vista? Wait until they get a load of Super Vista (Windows7). This strategy is about as honest and compelling as the soap maker who touts "New and Improved" to sell their product and then it turns out that the only "New" is the box design and the "Improved" is that the Box size is smaller with less in it , yet the product costs more. This is more of the same and less reasons to switch than was reported with Vista.

To date, no one has seriously reported this (the TCO nightmare). You should consider what it will cost the average consumer to run it , on a TCO basis and then report that. I think you would be amazed at what the real dollars spent would add up to. This is pretty much the same discussion on why we aren't buying Office 2007 or upgrading at the same rate with any of their development programs (.Net etc), it is why Windows Server products sales are sluggish, and why none of the Fortune 500 (a small number did and most switched back to XP) upgraded to Vista in the first place. Its also why you can buy a laptop right now for around $500 and why they'll give you Vista Premium basically for free. It may be great but who can afford it? If I can't afford it , then it doesn't matter how wonderful it is and I could care less that it looks , acts and feels like a Mac. I'm not a Mac hater either , but I run 100 % Microsoft products, so how does making it work like a Mac make me want to buy it?

It used to be that I and people like me were the target audience. Doesn't seem that way any more.


Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.