Windows 7 promises fewer problems

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It’s that time of year again. To get consumers — or at least their computers — in the holiday spirit, both Microsoft and Apple have launched their latest operating systems.

Microsoft’s new Windows 7 launched last Thursday as the successor to the oft-criticized Windows Vista. Apple’s latest creation, Mac OS X Snow Leopard, or simply Snow Leopard, hit the market in August.

Vista had issues with privacy, security, performance and product activation. Radical upgrades, such as the new Microsoft Office Suite 2007 and the general interface of the system caused headaches for PC users who upgraded or bought new hardware with Vista as the default operating system.

Though Microsoft promises this latest upgrade will be free of the major flaws and bugs that come with a major system change, there’s always the concern that some still exist.

To counteract the Windows 7 buzz, Apple has restarted the series of “Get a Mac” ads on TV hinting future problems for Microsoft’s latest system. Actors Justin Long (Mac) and John Hodgman (PC) resumed their banter.

Microsoft has five features it highlights in the Windows 7 upgrade listed on its Web site. For example, in the Pin to Taskbar option, a user’s favorite files can be dragged to the taskbar for easy access.

Dennis Brylow, assistant professor in the department of mathematics, statistics and computer science, said the negative reaction to Vista should be the reason for more users to upgrade to Windows 7 this time around.

Brylow said via e-mail it was hard to imagine a large fraction of the PC market would refuse to go along with the latest version of Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

“They’ve clearly taken pains to appear less arrogant in this release and people can see that,” he said.

He added that Microsoft has worked hard to address the long list of Vista grievances, as well as to try to improve its development process to include more  feedback from PC makers.

Cesar Belmontes, a junior in the College of Business Administration who downloaded Windows 7, said the updates Microsoft has made to Windows 7 are a substantial improvement over Vista.

“It was the greatest choice of my life,” he said. “There’s a very smooth interface, a faster boot time, no crashes, and it’s only $30.”

That $29.99 price applies to active students with university e-mail addresses (.edu) for a Windows 7 Home Premium update. The update is ordinarily $119.99 from Microsoft’s Web site, or $199.99 and $219.99 for Professional and Ultimate level upgrades, respectively.

In contrast, Apple’s Snow Leopard system is merely an aid for current Mac products to run faster. The main improvement to the Dock that shows up at the bottom of the screen is called Stacks, which allows for subfolders to be viewed in a stack with scrollbars.

Brylow said Snow Leopard is not a revolutionary new improvement but merely an upgrade. He said most of the new features speed up existing services or make them more compatible with other systems.

Connie Bauer, an associate professor of marketing in the College of Business Administration who has used Mac products since 1984, said there are not many changes to the newest system.

“Most of the changes are behind the scenes that most users will not see or notice,” she said. “For me, my favorite change is bringing the iCal Inspector pane back that was lost in Leopard.”

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