Has Microsoft corrected Vista annoyances in Windows 7?

A handful of experts puts Windows 7 through its paces to see if it finally exorcises the demons of Vista. They discuss what is remedied in the new operating system.

What were the biggest issues with Windows Vista, and have those issues been corrected in Windows 7?

Kirkland, Wash.-based Directions on Microsoft's analyst Michael Cherry and other analysts at the firm did their homework to answer those questions and found that, for the most part, the issues that frustrated Vista users won't be a problem in Windows 7. (Refer to Michael Cherry's "Removing Windows Barriers" chart).

The BitLocker features in Vista let people encrypt the data on their computers in case it is lost or stolen. Cherry said he thought that feature would be a big selling point to businesses that are concerned about data security; but IT administrators said it was too complicated and didn't like that it only works with internal storage.

Those annoyances have been remedied in Windows 7, so initial installation and configuration is much simpler, and a feature called BitLocker To Go extends its protection to removal drives, according to Cherry.

The Vista bloat issue was alleviated as well. In fact, Cherry said he bought a $300 Netbook and is running Windows 7 on it. "It's still a big operating system, but I was very surprised at how well it works on a Netbook," he said.

Tarun Chachra, CTO at an independent media advertising agency in N.Y., who also writes a technology blog, 2S2D.net, is using the beta version of Windows 7 on x64 machines, agreed that bloat is not as bad in Windows 7. "The OS now uses fewer system resources and the few that it does utilize are optimized in such a fashion that your daily computing life is no longer a chore…it truly is a pleasure to utilize this OS."

Cherry and his team also noted that the UAC function, which was obtrusive in Vista, has been improved in Windows 7. UAC is a security infrastructure that restricts user privileges to certain applications until an administrator authorizes use. In Windows 7, applications have been updated to work with UAC, and the UAC itself is less intrusive to users, according to Directions on Microsoft's report.

Chachra agreed that the "refined" UAC is better. "Vista had a UAC issue that would drive any user insane with the amount of approvals it required for getting simple things done," he said. "UAC still exists and it still requires confirmation at many levels for general tasks, but it is more aware of what it needs to ask you about. It is no longer a cumbersome feature. "

Cherry said there are new business-focused features in Windows 7 that will make it much more appealing to enterprises than Vista. New technologies such as DirectAccess and BrancheCache will improve access for remote employees and free up bandwidth, and XP mode eliminates the worries about application compatibility with XP.

Microsoft also seems to have fixed the Windows Vista power management problem, where systems don't restore correctly.

So while Windows 7 "still has its ups and downs," Chachra and Cherry's team both suggested that it is a big step up from Vista.

"Microsoft created Vista in an effort to improve on a foundation it had built. However they rushed to the market with it and thus it was a troubled operating system," Chachra said. "They then had to fix the issue and created Windows 7, which, I must say has improved all of the inconsistencies of Vista."

The full report, "Windows 7: An OS for Businesses," will be available to Direction's clients in early September.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho, News Writer

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