I guess I stirred up quite the beehive of activity with my last column, Windows 7 is coming: Don’t upgrade. Before I continue, I wanted to share a few final thoughts on what’s clearly been the most controversial piece of writing I’ve published in a while.
First, I’m a big boy, and I’ve got a thick skin. If you didn’t agree with what I had to say (and many of you didn’t) I promise you I didn’t skulk back to my office with a sniffle in my nose and a tear in my eye after reading the comments. Pro or con, agree or disagree, if I get readers to think critically about a given issue, I’ve accomplished my goal. I don’t particularly enjoy fanboys agreeing with my every word, so don’t expect my writing to reflect some kind of middle-of-the-road festival of milquetoast mutual admiration.
Second, if you’re interested in having a frank, open and sometimes tumultuous debate over the merits of a position I’ve taken, advice I’ve given, or a point I’ve made, then game on. By all means, leave a comment that outlines your position and why you think I’ve veered clearly into lunar orbit. Be as detailed and as passionate as you wish, because that’s the fuel of great debates and, ultimately, great learning.
Third, the basis of any debate involves knowing your audience. Innately. And this last week has taught me more about the collective you than I ever thought possible. Here’s what I’ve learned after thoughtfully reviewing every last comment you posted to the site:
- You’re light years removed from ordinary. You’re early adopters, willing and able to buy the newest, latest, coolest whatever. You know your stuff and stand ready to debate the finer points of technology architecture with anyone who dares technically cross you.
- You have little fear and relish the opportunity to roll up your sleeves, install something new, and work the problem until every last bug or glitch is fixed. And if you get burned along the way (I’m sure some of you have picked up Vista, the BlackBerry Storm, HD DVD players, or any number of non-Kindle book readers along the way) you suck it up, learn your lessons, and move on. The tech landscape isn’t for wimps, and you’re not about to relinquish your seat at the front.
- You’re willing to spend. Buying ahead of the curve means you almost always pay more than trailing edge folks like my mother-in-law. That doesn’t matter to you, as you could care less about whether a particular tech purchase represents an optimal investment. You also reserve the right to buy whatever you want, whenever you want, and for whatever reason, anyone else’s opinion be damned.
“At the end of the day, you can’t force everyone to see the world from exactly where you sit.”
Now, let’s get back to the topic at hand — once again, Windows 7. I suspect a few of my key points may have gotten lost in the brouhaha over last week’s column, so allow me to reiterate:
- Windows 7 is quite possibly Microsoft’s best OS. Ever. No, I didn’t change my mind; that’s what I’ve been saying and what you may or may not have already read.
- Most users who are firmly entrenched in the Windows world will be running it. Eventually.
- Precisely how they come to upgrade to Windows 7 will differ from case to case.
- I do not believe that upgrading existing hardware to Windows 7 is universally viable. That’s because there are costs — both direct and indirect — associated with upgrading that may make it worthwhile to simply attach an upgrade to a scheduled hardware acquisition.
On that last point, I don’t think any upgrade strategy is universally viable. It’s as true for auto and grocery shopping as it is for computers and operating systems. There’s a reason some of us drive Chevys and others drive Hyundais, why some single guys drive eight-passenger Cadillac Escalades while parents of three kids happily cram everyone into a Honda Fit for a cross-country drive to Grandma’s. We all have different tastes, different thresholds for acting on those tastes, and if we’re being brutally frank here, different economic capacities for acting on those tastes.
So while someone may self righteously claim anyone who chooses to keep running Windows XP on an older machine is an antediluvian technophobe, that XP-running Luddite may have no choice but to hold on to what he’s got because he owns only one machine, can’t afford another one, can’t afford the risk of killing his productivity, and doesn’t really care about the supposed advantages of Windows 7. You can rage all you want about the stupidity of clinging to the old and the amazing ease with which everyone should be able to give their tired old XP box some love with Windows 7. But what’s easy and feasible for some isn’t necessarily so for all.
And at the end of the day, you can’t force everyone to see the world from exactly where you sit. I guess now we know why some folks still run Windows 98 or (horrors!) DOS. You can’t make them upgrade any more than you can make the pleasantly rotund person in front of you in the grocery line ditch the pile of snack cakes in favour of something a little healthier. Different strokes, after all. Welcome to the real world.
In my own case, the Vista laptop that serves as my main work machine is a prime candidate for a Windows 7 upgrade when the code goes gold. But not a moment before, because I won’t experiment on production hardware. I’ve got an old, unassigned PC just for that purpose, thank you.
The old XP machine that my daughter now uses, however, will keep XP until it fails for good. Even though I could whip it to Windows 7 before she’s finished breakfast, she likes the interface and doesn’t see any reason to upset the apple cart. When we eventually buy her a new computer, she’ll have to go along for the Windows 7 ride. But I’ll have saved myself the retail cost of the OS, a couple hours worth of work (you do cost out your time, right?) and the ire of a close family member who just wants to get her homework done.
She, like most of us, will get into Windows 7, eventually. But it’ll be on her terms. Not anyone else’s.
Carmi Levy is a Canadian-based independent technology analyst and journalist still trying to live down his past life leading help desks and managing projects for large financial services organizations. He comments extensively in a wide range of media, and works closely with clients to help them leverage technology and social media tools and processes to drive their business.