updated 12:40 pm EDT, Thu October 8, 2009
Mossberg says Windows 7 closes gap
Microsoft's release of Windows 7 will be enough to eliminate most of Apple's advantage in recent years, Walt Mossberg said today in his review of the new operating system. Normally an outspoken proponent of Apple's platform, the columnist now believes that Mac OS X Snow Leopard only has a "slight edge" over Windows thanks to 7 running faster and sporting multiple interface improvements.
"I, like many other reviewers, have argued that Apple's Mac OS X operating system is much better than Windows," he said. "That's no longer true."
The upcoming release centers on a new taskbar that merges the Quick Launch and running apps into single icons. The feature is effectively borrowed from the Mac OS X Dock but adds a preview that shows all an app's windows just by mousing over thumbnails, an approach that Mossberg prefers to the Dock Expose in Snow Leopard, which requires a click-and-hold command to achieve a similar effect.
Other improvements are mostly fixes and included easier though not flawless home networking, fewer prompts for security or other notices, and native support for multi-touch that will find its way into a number of touchscreen PCs.
Apple chiefly wins in areas where it has historically trumped Microsoft, such as far fewer instances of malware attacks, cheaper and easier individual upgrades, and bundled apps. Mossberg reminds users that Windows XP upgrades force a "clean" install due to fundamental OS differences and that Vista upgrades are at times problematic, in separate cases rendering video output and a notebook trackpad unusable.
The positive review marks a turning point for Windows, whose poor reputation under Vista led to rare revenue drops for Microsoft as some home users and most businesses consciously avoided the release due to real and perceived problems with compatibility and speed. However, Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer has admitted that he only expects a small boost from Windows 7 as the economy and hesitant businesses may prevent a larger sales spike come the October 22nd launch.