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What is Happening to Windows 7?

John Dvorack shoots for the gutter in his latest missive. Maybe this is just what he does now, I don't know.

Blame the tricky upgrade process—and, by extension, the Registry—for the backlash against Windows 7.

What backlash?

Industry puff-ball Walter Mossberg writes last week that XP users won't be able to do a traditional upgrade to Windows 7; they have to migrate instead. But this isn't news. (Mossberg isn't exactly timely, people.) We've know that for several months. And I actually first documented the XP to 7 migration process back in May--over two months before Mossberg did. So if there's "backlash," it's from people who simply aren't paying attention. You know, Mossberg's readers.

So what other "issues" does Dvorack raise here?

Studies and reports began to emerge about how businesses will not upgrade to Windows 7 ... 60 percent of businesses are going to hold off on Windows 7 implementation. And these are companies that probably did not upgrade to Vista.

Someone should alert Microsoft. Because as recently as last week, the software giant made the following claims about Windows 7:

  • Over 80 percent of IT pros plans to upgrade to Windows 7 within 30 months.
  • Over 8 million people downloaded the Windows 7 RC release.
  • 50 percent of enterprise ITDMs plan to upgrade to Windows 7 as soon as it is available.

And let's remember that Microsoft isn't exactly hyperbolic when it comes to future trends. You know, what with being a public company and all.

And then there's this amazing claim.

The real problem is the idiotic Windows Registry and the architecture developed around the idea.

You know, making a Monday Morning Quarterback argument in this way is cute, and I'm sure we could do the same for any other number of Windows technologies that made sense at the time but look quaint now. (DLLs, for example. The poster child of this kind of pointless discussion. Oh, wait. He brings that up too.) But come on. I don't want to spend too much time on this, and I'm certainly not defending the Registry, but virtually everyone gets this wrong, and doesn't understand the point. Put simply, up until Windows 3.x, Windows configuration settings were handled largely through (*.ini) text files, similar to how it works in UNIX (and still does in all NIX-like OSes, such as Linux). Parsing a text file at run-time doesn't seem very elegant or performant, so the Registry was created. It actually did make sense. In 1992. Yes, it grew into a monster. But the Windows 3.x world into which it was born (the Registry did not debut in Windows 95, as many think), the Registry made sense. Seriously. You need to deal with that.

There have been rumors of XML-based Registry replacements in Windows; one was supposed to happen in Longhorn but disappeared, just like most of everything else that was planned for that release. I'm sure there were plans for WinFS-based Registry replacements. But here we are over 15 years later and the classic Registry still exists in Windows.

Is the Registry really what's wrong with Windows? Duh. No. And it's certainly not at the heart of the non-issue of Windows 7 somehow suddenly getting bad press. Windows 7 is a huge win. It's not a revolutionary technical update to the core OS (that was Vista). It's just a chance to nicely fine-tune something that, for some people, was a little off. (And for many others who never even tried it, they just assumed that the conventional "wisdom'--as dictated by ivory tower dinosaurs like Mossberg and Dvorack--was correct.)

Nothing to see here. Nothing at all. This is the Windows 7 equivalent of the "Fonts dialog" idiocy from Windows Vista. A complete non-event.

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