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Mailbag: Windows 7 x 6, More

Readers continue the debate over whether six versions of Windows 7 is too many:

No, I don't believe it's too many. There are only three real options for the general public: Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate. Basic is only for emerging markets. Enterprise, like in Vista, is only for software assurance (VL) customers. And Starter...well, it's only able to run three apps at once and no Aero, so it's really not an option for most people.

Well, of course seven versions are too many. I think that was a bit of the show-stopper for Vista, as well. Why would I want to pay MS $400 for an operating system when I can get it for free from *Nix?

It seems reminiscent of the '90s when Novell was championed as never losing market share. It was charging outlandish prices and MS was offering desktops for $100. That's the way Microsoft worked into the server market, as well. Offer the same services or capitalize on a problem with your competitor, then bury them in wholesale pricing. It's the MS way...or at least it used to be.

You do realize, don't you, that it is really only FIVE versions since Ultimate and Enterprise are identical, except that individuals cannot buy Enterprise?

Since consumers cannot buy the shrink-wrapped Starter Edition and won't be able to buy Home Basic (shrink-wrapped or on OEM hardware) any longer either, it really reduces to THREE that people in the developed world can buy shrink-wrapped and on OEM hardware: Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate. This sounds a lot more reasonable.

If Windows 7 is based on the Vista codebase and if it retains Vista's intrusive functionality, then even one version is too many. I suspect that XP will continue to run for many years to come, as long as MS is not successful in strong-arming hardware vendors into not providing new equipment with XP drivers. MS will continue to support XP (as if I care) as long as there is considerable revenue in doing so. As long as the market does not buy into Vista and 7, third-party vendors will continue to develop and support software for XP; they will not stop doing so while XP has 90 percent of the market.

It is only an operating system, people. All it has to do is interface with your applications. What makes you think that you need to replace it as often as last year's hemline? In a tight economy, this continuing two-year-plus rant about the need to upgrade Windows is beyond frivolous. Until MS develops a truly new product based on user needs and demands, I would recommend the Nancy Reagan approach and just say no.

My guess is that Microsoft makes more money out of products with multiple nonsense versions -- like Home, which is a crippled version of Standard. Who would buy a crippled version of Windows 7? I wouldn't spend a dime for it. I blame uneducated consumers. I urge everybody to stop that craziness. For the majority of consumers, one version would be adequate.

Marc doesn't think Vista's 10 percent adoption rate in the enterprise market is reason for worry:

Not surprising! Big business doesn't upgrade its operating system until all of its hardware is capable of running the new OS. In the best of times, after two years only the most aggressive enterprise customers will have upgraded more than 50 percent of their hardware. Most will have replaced 40 percent or less. Since we are in the midst of a recession, your 10 percent figure is not surprising. For that matter, adoption rates for Windows 2000 weren't much better. It took XP to turn that around -- just as it will take Windows 7 to turn it around now.

And Earl tackles the argument against hiring H-1B visa workers in a bad economy:

Are businesses just looking to save money by hiring foreigners with H-1B visas, or are they really the best and the brightest? Look at any college graduate program in engineering or science and you will find a disproportionate amount of foreign students. This is because they are better qualified to do the work. I do not think this is the case for advanced business degrees.

We should not let predjudice stop us from importing brilliant people to help our economy. After all, they end up paying U.S. taxes also.

Watch this space for more letters on Wednesday! In the meantime, share your thoughts with us by writing to [email protected] or leaving a comment below.

Posted by Doug Barney on February 09, 2009