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Windows 7 for $0?

So, you bought Vista, and maybe you don't like it so much, and you're thinking that you spent a bunch of money for not much in return. Well, you'd be wrong -- because you didn't just buy Vista. You also bought Windows 7. Maybe.

Apparently, Microsoft might be preparing to give free upgrades from Vista to Windows 7. At the time of writing this, we're still not sure whether that's true. But according to a Web site that actually manages to get things right occasionally, Microsoft is going to (with restrictions, of course) give Vista buyers a free pass to the next level.

Now, for those of us who are mainly concerned with the enterprise, Redmond's little gesture, should it actually come to pass, is pretty irrelevant, in large part because not many enterprises bothered to buy into Vista in the first place. Beyond that, this is, or would be, clearly a consumer-focused effort aimed at burying the mostly lousy legacy of Vista. We have no idea at this point how or whether the free upgrades would work with volume licensing -- but, again, unless we're talking upgrades from XP here, a lot of companies won't care.

What interests us here is Microsoft's attitude toward Vista in particular and Windows in general. As recently as July, Steve Ballmer was banging on at the Worldwide Partner Conference about how Microsoft wasn't giving up on Vista and how partners should continue to push the forlorn operating system. There were even pro-Vista sessions with partners and IT folks at the conference.

Then, seemingly almost at the same time, news about Windows 7 started to leak, and Microsoft started floating demos of Vista's successor. Within a few months, Windows 7 betas were appearing, and now Vista seems to be about as welcome a name in Redmond as Madoff is on Wall Street or Blago is in Illinois.

And now this upgrade program comes along -- potentially -- and that old Chicago tune "Hard To Say I'm Sorry" is running through our minds. (Get your lighters out for that one -- even the YouTube video is legitimately retro.) Microsoft won't -- can't -- admit that Vista, despite all its hype, was pretty much a dog in many users' eyes. So instead of just saying that it was a bust, Redmond is trying to move us all along...nothing to see here...to Windows 7.

Of course, with 90-plus percent market share, the Windows franchise isn't exactly crumbling. And it probably won't for a while, until Software-as-a-Service becomes the norm and the operating system becomes mostly irrelevant, anyway...we say as we try for the fifteenth time to log into a (non-Microsoft) SaaS application that's been down all day.

How excited are you about Windows 7? What do you want from it? Will you ever give up XP? Sound off at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on January 08, 2009 at 11:55 AM


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