Last month, we published an article called Windows 7 and Windows Vista features that need to be fixed. The purpose of the article was to start a constructive discussion with Windows Vista users about what they believe Microsoft should improve or add to Windows 7. With the help of other Windows Vista sites, we managed to spread the word about this idea and we have received lots of constructive feedback. Here is what Windows Vista users had to say:
Windows versions and pricing
- Windows 7 Flavors – Windows Vista comes in too many flavors and prices. The average user is not exactly a technology enthusiast and doesn’t know the differences between versions. Having Windows Vista Home Basic, Home Premium, Ultimate and other versions, raised lots of questions and confused many of our readers when they had to choose their version. With Windows 7, Microsoft should keep things simple and launch only a Business Version and a Home Version. Or, to keep things even more simple, why not launch a single version? As we know, there is only one version of Ubuntu and one of MacOS and both operating systems are very good and successful in their niche.
- Pricing – In order to improve the adoption of the operating system and convince people not to use pirated versions, it would be a good idea to adapt the pricing of Windows 7 according to the regions where it is sold. Asking the same price in Eastern Europe as in Western Europe or the same price in China & India as in US & Canada will not help sales at all and will not eliminate piracy, as the average income is very different from country to country. Using a pricing strategy that takes into consideration the differences between regions will convince people to use legitimate copies of Windows 7. No matter how many anti-piracy systems Microsoft creates, they always get cracked in days. Creating even more complicated anti-piracy systems will only hurt legitimate users, and not the users using pirated versions of Windows.
- Visual Customization – While working on the Pimp My Windows Vista series of articles, we’ve learned how hard it can be to customize all visual aspects of Windows Vista. Things which should be very simple, like changing the Windows Theme, involve replacing system files with modified versions which allow you to install and use custom themes found on the Internet. Every user should be able to easily change things such as the Windows Theme or the Logon Screen, without having to install 3rd party applications or replace system files. It would be great if Microsoft would open up their application programming interface (API) for third party themes.
- Software Customization – Many Windows Vista users complain about the fact that they cannot remove or turn off software such as Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, Windows Mail, Windows Calendar, Windows Contacts, etc. Many people, including myself, believe that Windows 7 should install by default only the core of the operating system and then allow users to customize their installation according to their needs. Installing too much software which people don’t use or do not wish to use, it is a waste of installation time, hard disk space and it creates additional complexity.This will also save Microsoft a lot of trouble when it comes to legal matters such as the Opera complaint against Microsoft in the EU over Internet Explorer and many other similar complaints. A modularized approach will help both Microsoft and its Windows 7 users.
Tweak Windows Vista Tools
- User Account Control (UAC) – UAC is one of the most controversial features in Windows Vista. Many people consider it the most nagging feature and, even though Windows Vista Service Pack 1 decreased the number of UAC prompts, it did not improve the way it is perceived by users. According to a survey led by The WinVistaClub, most Windows Vista users disable UAC. Also, if you consider the fact that one of our most popular articles is How to disable UAC, it is pretty clear that this feature needs further tweaking. One idea that might work is to implement some sort of ‘Remember this action’ checkbox when an UAC prompt is displayed. Also, defining a list of ‘trusted’ applications for UAC might improve the user experience while keeping the same security level.
- Ultimate Extras – Initially this seemed like a great idea, but Microsoft never delivered their promises. BitLocker, Hold Em’ Poker, a couple of sound schemes and other small things certainly do not justify the upgrade to Windows Vista Ultimate. If this idea will be implemented in Windows 7, Microsoft needs to deliver a lot more as an incentive to upgrade.
- Other Tools – There are many other Windows Vista tools which are worth improving. Many of our readers complained about the fact that the Windows Defragmenter does not show the status of the defragmentation process. You never know how much was done or how much time it will take until the process ends.The Backup and Restore Center is another tool worth improving. According to Windows Vista users, it should allow you to choose which files and folders you want to backup. Choosing only the types of files you want to backup is not that helpful. Also, it would be good to have the same backup & restore capabilities in all versions of Windows 7, in case there will be more than one version.
Another very welcomed change would be to have Windows Update as a portal for all software updates in Windows 7. Opening Windows Update to other trusted vendors will allow users to use the same tool for updating all their software. It would be great if users could automatically install the latest versions of their Flash Player, Java Runtime, Adobe Reader, codec pack, etc. Checking updates with every vendor is a rather tedious process which is why many users don’t do it, thus exposing themselves to additional security threats.
Optimization for the latest hardware
- 32 bit vs 64 bit – Another interesting point raised by some Windows Vista users is to have only a 64-bit version of Windows 7 since modern processors support 64 bit software for years. They believe Windows 7 should be optimized for these processors and Microsoft should try to convince developers to build more 64-bit applications. Also, working closer with hardware providers to provide better 64-bit driver support should be a high priority.
- Multi-CPU and Multi-GPU – Both processors and video cards have an increasing number of cores. Windows 7 should be optimized for such configurations and take advantage of the increasing processing power offered by such configurations.
- Virtualization – Built-in virtualization support is another idea that users consider worth implementing. Other suggestions included using application virtualization for legacy applications which will not work on Windows 7. Having older applications which ‘think’ they are running on the ‘correct’ version of Windows and not die will surely help users embrace Windows 7 faster than they embraced Windows Vista.
Digital rights management
- Ditch DRM – Many users feel that Microsoft should not build an operating system according to the demands of the movie industry instead of its individual customers. DRM is extremely unpopular and ditching the forms of DRM included in Windows Vista will surely improve Microsoft’s image.
There are plenty of other ideas such as: showing the clock on the login screen, implementing password-protected folders, improving interoperability with other operating systems, avoiding to rename tools and shortcuts for the sake of change, etc. Many of them can be read on our previous article on this topic, on the Engineering Windows 7 blog and on many other sites. We did our best to include the most popular ideas and we hope we have succeeded in doing that.
If Microsoft will listen to all the feedback they received and take it into consideration when developing Windows 7, it is their choice. Hopefully, this will happen and Windows 7 will be the best Microsoft Operating System ever.
Reflecting on a few recent threads…