What Windows 7 Means … For Apple

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With the annoying stuff from Vista removed and the ability to run a virtual instance of XP within Windows 7, Apple should worry

Microsoft’s Windows 7 is scheduled for a late 2009 release. The pundits are already starting to chip in on its possibility of success. Consumers are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to finally get their hands on the operating system. Companies are wondering if it will be better than Vista.

And Apple, cool consumer-friendly Apple, is preparing an operating system of its own, Snow Leopard, that it contends will be the best operating system it has ever released.

In the meantime, at Apple, they have made little mention of some obvious questions that the company might have: Will Windows 7 be any good? Will consumers like it? Most importantly, what if it boasts features that make Mac OS X look dated?

Since Microsoft has said that its most recent Windows 7 release, Release Candidate 1, is close to the final version of Windows 7, I think we can answer those questions now. Yes, it will be good. Yes, consumers will like it. And yes, it will boast features that make Apple’s operating system look dated. And yes, Apple will be forced to respond.

The Windows 7 task bar makes Mac OS X’s Dock less appealing

The Taskbar boasts both open and closed applications, similar to Mac OS X’s Dock. But when you hover your mouse over the open application icons, you’ll find a thumbnail of every open instance of the application. Whenever you move your mouse over an individual thumbnail, it will be brought to the front and fit to your screen. Opening the window you’re looking for, takes much less time in Windows 7 than in Mac OS X.

Spaces, Mac OS X’s multi-desktop tool that aims at keeping you organised and getting you to the desired application sooner, can’t compare on any level with Windows 7’s task bar. So Windows 7 (finally) provides a much nicer experience when it comes to opening and organising applications. The onus is back on Apple to improve it.

The software conundrum

Whenever we consider the Windows and Mac OS X environments, we need to look at software. Before Vista was made available, there weren’t many issues affecting the Windows ecosystem. Companies had the software they wanted, since there were no compatibility issues. All that changed when Vista was released. IT managers were wondering when their broken applications would be updated to work with the OS. Developers were scrambling to find solutions to the incompatibility issue. And Microsoft kept promising results.

Many companies were turned off Vista, and it ensured that either XP or other solutions, including Mac OS X, would be deployed. It gave Apple the upper-hand. What was worse, it made Microsoft look bad and generated bucket loads of negative publicity for Vista and Microsoft.

But Windows 7 is different. It has an XP mode which will allow any company to run apps that might not work in Windows 7, on a virtual instance of Windows XP. That means that deploying Windows 7 won’t be a problem for companies that are in desperate need of a company-wide operating system deployment. And it ensures that Windows 7 won’t leave companies who rely on business-critical software, out in the cold.