Windows 7 earns kudos from surprising sources

David Pogue of the New York Times and Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal have been consistent Mac fans and Vista bashers for the past few years, so yesterday’s first-look reviews of Windows 7 were eye-opening.

 [Update: In the comments to this post, David Pogue rightfully chides me for stereotyping his previous writings about Windows Vista, so I’ve struck through that part. See his comment and my reply for more discussion. And be sure to read this post of mine from April 2005, especially the last paragraph, where I point to Pogue’s review of OS X Tiger and conclude:If you write reviews of technology products, take note – this is how a pro does it.” ]

Not surprisingly, both men decided to frame their reviews with yet more Vista-bashing. Pogue’s piece is entitled “Hate Vista? You May Like the Fix.” (For some odd reason, that second part appears as “You May Like Microsoft’s Sequel” in the page title.) Mossberg, meanwhile, entitles his piece “Even in Test Form, Windows 7 Leaves Vista in the Dust'”

Pogue’s review goes through all the things he his Twitter followers hated about Vista and concludes that Windows 7 has fixed most of them. On speed, for example, “Microsoft definitely got the message…. Even in the test version, you can feel that a lot of things are faster: starting up (40 seconds on my three test machines), shutting down, reconnecting to wireless networks, copying files and inserting flash drives, for example.”

On page 2, he reviews the new stuff in Windows 7. This type of praise is rare:

HomeGroups are fantastic. Type the same one-time password into every Windows 7 computer, and presto: instant, automatic home network, without having to fool around with accounts, permissions and so on. Every PC can see the other computers’ pictures, music, movies and documents, and folders that you specify, as well as share one another’s printers. Even in the test version, it works like a charm.

Mossberg was able to test Windows 7 on two machines: a Lenovo notebook supplied by Microsoft, and the Sony VAIO that he has used as a Vista whipping boy for years. But surprise!

[E]ven the beta version of Windows 7 was dramatically faster than Vista at such tasks as starting up the computer, waking it from sleep and launching programs.

And this speed boost wasn’t only apparent in the preconfigured machine from Microsoft, but on my own Sony (SNE), which had been a dog using Vista, even after I tried to streamline its software. Of course, these speed gains may be compromised by the computer makers, if they add lots of junky software to the machines. Windows 7 is also likely to run well on much more modest hardware configurations than Vista needed.

In their final grafs, Pogue and Mossberg call Windows 7 “exciting” and “promising,” respectively. For Microsoft, that’s as close to a slam-dunk as it gets.

22 thoughts on “Windows 7 earns kudos from surprising sources

  1. Two of the biggest Apple fan boys in the press saying this, and last week Dan Lyons slamming Apple fans in the press…. could we be seeing a “Switch Back” phenomenon?

  2. Walt Mossberg always likes to point to his reviews of Windows 95 when he is accused of bias. Somehow, I can’t find these on the ‘net.

    I also wonder how much of the bias in the media is due to the dominance of Macs in design and production niches. They held onto this niche even in the dark days of 3% market share in the late 1990s. Pretty savvy of Apple in those pre-Jobs days; there probably wouldn’t have been an Apple for Jobs to return to if they hadn’t done that.

  3. Although I think it is a clear step above Vista, I’ve got a list of issues with Windows 7 after serious testing.

    I like Windows 7 but I have some concerns that I’d like addressed before final release

    First thing – EVERYONE I spoke to even at the MS booth at CES said they want the UP FOLDER back in explorer – yes there are other ways to go back one folder but the up folder was convenient.

    Classic start menu – not an option – classic start menu makes it easier to support clients if they have key components such as network properties and my computer on the desktop. I’m not saying it should be the default but why not make it an option as it was in Windows XP and Vista? I realize you can put some icons on the desktop (not IE) using personalize.

    Media Center won’t let you click on album art cover once a song is already playing to play the new song from the album art cover. Seems only logical.

    Media Center – often has static in playback – using Audigy 2z sound card.

    Search works well but it would be great if the search in the start menu had a drop down just like run has in the start menu so you can repeat a search from your search history.

    Aero interface stops working without message so flip 3d stops with alt-tab – using the troubleshooting fix sometimes solves it by enabling desktop manager – sometimes it can’t – how do you manually enable Windows desktop manager – personalize desktop works but nothing to control the aero interface

    Since most current receivers and other media streaming capable devices will support .flac file playback, it seems a shame not to use the native media player in windows as a media streaming server – instead because windows does not natively support flac playback, we have to look at alternative hardware streaming solutions or mediaplayers similar to windows media player but with flac support such as tversity or Twonky or Nero

    Winver does not tell you if you are running 64 or 32 bit – computer properties would be improved if 64 or 32 bit was listed in the top section. It never states if you are installing the 32 or 64 bit version during installation.

    It would be nice if it was easy to see what version and build of windows you were running by going to computer properties or by running winver – currently it tells you Windows Version 6.1 – Build 70000 – it doesn’t say 7000 x64 081212-1400

    During Install if you attempt to install with a brand new drive it won’t install until you format the drive and reboot.

    There is no desktop icon for IE – this was very handy for clear items and change settings etc before going into IE.

    Do something with the 200 MB partion in disk manager so it is clear that it is a restore point or whatever – change the color of it, just make it more clearly defined.

  4. Windows 7 is in a different league than Vista indeed. I tend to agree with all Vista bashers: Vista does suck (in my opinion) profoundly, at so many levels. Windows 7 is visually similar to Vista, but the devil is in the details, and Windows 7 got a huge number of details right. Plus the performance is a deal maker: Windows 7 brought a 2003 machine of mine back to life (Athlon XP, 1 GB RAM), that’s remarkable right there.

    It’s tempting to compare 7 and Vista, but from what I could see so far, there’s not much to compare besides the visuals and the fact that Microsoft released both of those OSes… 7 beats Vista in everything so far.

  5. You say: “David Pogue of the New York Times … been consistent Mac fans and Vista bashers for the past few years”

    Actually, not. Please read my review of Vista at… I actually liked Vista from the beginning, and am constantly having to defend that review to the Vista-hating people I run into.

    You also say: “Pogue’s review goes through all the things he hated about Vista”

    No. What I actually wrote was that I asked my TWITTER followers what they hate about Vista. I never said that this was MY list… it’s culled from the responses of my 4700 followers.

    Really, a blogger of your stature ought not to fall into this sort of easy stereotyping. I give each thing a thumbs-up or thumbs-down according to its merit… not its manufacturer.

    But I do agree that Windows 7 looks fantastic!


    1. Thanks for stopping by, David. For those who want to read your original Vista review, you can find it here: Vista Wins On Looks. As for Lacks . . .

      I agree that was a generally well-rounded and professional review. I did grit my teeth at this portion, though:

      You get the feeling that Microsoft’s managers put Mac OS X on an easel and told the programmers, ”Copy that.” … Now, before the hate-mail tsunami begins, it’s important to note that Apple has itself borrowed feature ideas on occasion, even from Windows. But never this broadly, boldly or blatantly. There must be enough steam coming out of Apple executives’ ears to power the Polar Express. Even so, brazen as it was, the heist was largely successful.

      I consider that pretty faint praise. As for the current list of Vista likes and dislikes, you did indeed note that you gathered it from Twitter followers, but the writeup that follows each list entry makes it pretty clear you agree.

      I’ll edit the post to eliminate the stereotyping, which I agree is unfair.

  6. Ed, I don’t know why you’re surprised – Windows 7 is actually good. Vista isn’t / wasn’t, and not just by comparison. Finally, some of us can like Windows again without putting our integrity in jeopardy. 😉

  7. The shift in tides is incredible, and may work wonders for Microsoft. While we don’t know what to expect from Apple’s advertising, their original anti-Vista ads could never have worked the way they did if it weren’t for the media and internet’s reaction to Vista giving them the foundation. This time it’s completely different.

    Personally, I’m one of the many, many Vista-lovers. From the day I installed the final version, I gritted my teeth when using machines with XP. I grew to love all the innovations in Vista, and the minor annoyances were just that: minor. I’ve run it exclusively on every machine in my house and my work notebook and never been happier with its stability and performance. Heck, my last hand-me-down work notebook, which was a basic Core Duo with 2GB of RAM and integrated video ran it flawlessly.

    All of that said, I’ve switched my notebook to 7 exclusively, and I’m in the process of migrating my desktop to it when I have time. It has everything I loved about Vista, fixes nearly everything I didn’t, and adds new functionality that I’m already missing when I switch to a non-7 machine. There’s so many subtle touches, too, that matter to me. I’m one of those people who not only finds, but uses all of the little secret shortcuts and functions most users never know exist, and there’s a ton of great ones in 7.

    And Microsoft deserves a ton of credit for this. They’ve done some truly new things with this OS that really affect day-to-day use. With the Zune, the Xbox 360 NXE, and now this, I feel like they’re a whole new company lately. If Windows Mobile 6.5 and 7 live up to these standards, I’ll have no problem fully supporting the company anymore. It’s been night and day lately.

  8. David (Pogue) if you’re still reading the comments here, I completely understand why you have the reputation as a “Mac fan-boy” or “Vista hater” because of things like this: where you simply get all the facts wrong about who-had-what first. If you had done more research on who-copied-whom then you may not have that. I also didn’t see any videos like this about all the features that Leopard ripped off of Vista, like Time Machine, the Time Machine interface, quick look, glassy interface, Stacks etc.

    Oh, and before you dismiss me as a Windows fan-boy, you should realize that I’m typing this on a Mac Pro with OS X 10.5.6 😉

  9. David,
    I have to agree with Cory: I enjoy your writings and occasionally watching you on CNBC – but not listening, since I’m at work and the volume is down 🙂 … However, even when you are giving a Windows feature high marks, it often seems a bit underhanded. (See, Cory’s YouTube video as an example.) Along the same lines, I really enjoyed your presentation at the TED conference a few years ago, but it definitely seemed like a presentation that would’ve been better suited for, say, Macworld instead: You certainly gushed over their products enough.

    All that said, I find you pretty funny and enjoy your writing. I choose not to take your reviews of Windows or Mac product seriously, though, because they do seem largely biased. I could be wrong and it could be just me being too sensitive. But, tone it down a little, will ya?

    (written on a Mac, too)

  10. It’s funny how people who hated Vista suddenly LOVE 7. You guys do realize 7 isn’t THAT much different from Vista, right? I’m looking at you Chris Pirillo. Of course, you’re one about getting web hits rather than being a credible source of info. 😉

  11. Ed, wonder if you can help me with this one – my Dell Latitude laptop (with integrated Intel graphics) works perfectly when docked to the docking station. As soon as I unplug it, the colours get washed out – looks like it is 64 colours only down from 32bit. If I check thec ontrol panel settings- it is still set to 32bit, and reapplying it makes no difference. Docking back in – the display comes back to normal mode.

  12. Sahir, that sounds like it might be a hardware problem. Maybe a bad connection from the internal graphics port to the display? I would contact Dell support and see if they can help.

  13. While I’ve been pleased and impressed with WIn 7 so far I was surprised when one of my favorite Anti-spyware programs Superantispyware caused a BSOD. I was sure it worked with build 6801, which is why I thought it was safe to install. Take that one off the list.

  14. I would like to present my viewes before people who are surprised/annoyed at the positive response being generated by Windows 7.
    1. The people who are happy with W7 are not being paid by MS to report so. They are credible people and/or PC enthusiasts. They will report what they feel is right. Tagging someone as a MS hater/lover just on the basis of what they dare to report is stupid at best.
    2. If you are a happy/sad/annoyed user of Vista, W7 will definetly improve your experience. The improvement areas are numerous – networking, performance(shutdown, boot, app-launch), content management, troubleshooting to name a few. So go on, download a copy, and actually give it a spin before contributing/stumbling to FUD.
    3. If you have stuck/downgraded(or upgraded, as some like to call it) to XP till now, and would like to do so for eternity, giving W7 a try wont hurt. Use a dual-boot/virtual machine setup to see what you are missing.

    There is a three word case I can make for Windows 7:
    performance, security, productivity regardless of your current OS.

    Thoughts Edd?



  15. Ravi, overall I agree, especially with the performance and productivity part. As for security, I don’t think there’s a huge difference over Vista, although the improvement over XP is profound,

  16. I fail to find where David Pogue has ‘constantly’ defended the perception of himself as a ‘Vista basher’ in his online activities / writings. Perhaps it’s not evident because he rarely runs into ‘Vista hating’ people because they are, in fact, quite rare. If anything he ratchets the rhetoric up (see previously mentioned YouTube video as but one example) rather than being a true resource to his readers. He works in an ad supported business where controversy and bad news sells more so it shouldn’t be a bit surprising that he tends to amplify controversy rather than clarifying the situation.

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