Lots of strong opinions about Microsoft out there. There are people who stand behind it staunchly. In their eyes Microsoft can do no wrong and critics like me are simply buffoons who don't get it. Then there are people who hate Microsoft for everything it stands for. In their minds no matter what Microsoft offers, it's going to be bad.

I admit I've been a harsh critic of Microsoft in this space, but only because I believe it has deserved it, not because of any vendetta. When it comes to Vista, for instance, I criticize it because I've found it almost completely unusable based on my experience. I've had friends tell me they have few issues with Vista (any more than you would with any OS). When it comes to Windows 7, I'm willing to be open minded and let my experience guide me, but I have to say based on some early research (some of which I wrote about in Meet the New Windows, Same as the Old Windows), I do have doubts that this is going to be anything but repackaged Vista. I'm willing to give it a chance, but not much.

Take Your Positions

I've been using Microsoft products for 25 years. I used an IBM PC back in the mid-80s running MS-DOS. I have a copy of DOS 6, Windows 3.1, Windows for Workgroups,Win 95--the whole evolution of Microsoft Windows products on my bookshelf. So when I criticize Microsoft, I do it on my terms as an experienced user. I didn't just walk in the room and start screaming. I write with the authority of someone who has used computers almost my entire working life.

A couple of years ago, I bought a Mac Book Book Pro. While my MBP is not perfect, it is far more stable than any Windows PC I've ever used. I run into occasional problems, mostly because I push my memory resources to the limit running Windows in Parallels and many programs at the same time. Beyond that, I can run it for weeks without rebooting. It has an elegance and a beauty lacking in Windows (and again I say that as someone who is running both on the same machine).

Microsoft Made Its Own Bed With Me

I've used Vista on a number of machines in my house. It's strange and quirky and breaks a lot. I admit my experience with Vista has colored my opinion of Microsoft. I give Microsoft a much shorter leash than I once did and I have gotten to the point where I try to avoid using Microsoft products. But I'm also a technology journalist and a curious person and when Microsoft releases a new OS, I have to take a look and see, and I will look at Windows 7 and try to make a judgment.

Let's face it, Microsoft has had a long run and they've played fast and loose with a valuable customer base. Some people, like me, are near the end of their tether. Windows 7 is one chance for Microsoft to prove that it can win me back.

It's probably the last chance because if this is just more of the same, I'm going to be gone and I won't be back unless I absolutely have to be to do my job. So I hope that Windows 7 is more than just warmed-over Vista because I've had just about enough of that.

I agree. MS is just repackaging Vista now that they've fixed most of its issues. I think it's time for Microsoft to take a strong look at what they're doing and fix it. They have some great applications but the OS problems have hounded them for years beginning with Windows NT 4.0 which was 'crashy' and very hardware picky. I'll probably never see Windows 7 on any computer in my house. We only have one with Vista and my wife curses it constantly--I just haven't upgraded it to XP yet for her (it's a new laptop from a store--and no, she doesn't want to use Linux--been there, tried that, still wear the cast).
My biggest issue with MS and their OSs is that every time a new one comes out, you have to upgrade all your hardware to the next generation which is another thousand dollars on top of the price of the OS. Not worth it. Sorry, just not worth it.

Having got the beta installed, it does look in many ways that Windows 7 is Vista but done properly. (I'm minded of the relationship between Win2k and WinXP: basically the same, but subtly improved.) Of course, if you're used to MacOS X then things do look oddly familiar!