Saturday, October 24, 2009

5 things to know

Windows 7 has only been out for a few days now, so maybe now is a good time to start looking at what the press is writing.

The Washington Post has an article today about 5 things you should know about upgrading from XP to Windows 7. It's a great topic, since so many people opted to skip Vista entirely, and are (were?) still running Windows XP. The WP's article is not that long, but the slant struck me, so let me put it in plainer terms:
  1. Microsoft didn't make an XP to 7 upgrade tool, despite the fact that so many people avoided Vista and stuck with XP, so you need to blow away your system and re-install.
  2. Or, upgrade from XP to Vista, then upgrade from Vista to 7. Says the article: "It doesn't even have to be licensed since you won't be activating it and won't have it loaded for more than a few hours". Yes, I think the Washington Post just recommended software piracy to make the Windows upgrade easier.
  3. If you have older hardware, you will have a tough time finding drivers in 7. But Microsoft has software to help you find software.
  4. You may lose settings when you upgrade to 7, but Microsoft has more software for that.
  5. Your Windows security software won't work in 7, so you'll have to buy new versions. Yay! More software to make the software you already own work better.
The WP article concludes by recommending you just toss out your existing system, and buy a new one with Windows 7 already pre-loaded. Shocking advice, considering you could buy XP until very recently, and even a few weeks ago Windows XP still had better adoption than Windows Vista.


  1. Just spotted an item in the USA Today that Windows 7 security settings may leave PCs vulnerable to cyberattacks. While Microsoft toned down the very annoying User Access Control, security experts advise the new UAC "is being shipped in a configuration that may do more harm than good, in terms of leaving your Windows 7 PC vulnerable to cyber criminals looking to take control."

    From the article:
    “Overall Windows 7 is a big improvement and a much more secure operating system,”says Eric Voskuil, CTO of authentication security firm BeyondTrust. "However, UAC in its default configuration is a ticking time bomb."

    "Once Windows 7 is widely deployed it’s likely this inherent vulnerability will be exploited by malicious users," predicts Voskuil.

    Expect to see more zombies this year, powered by Windows 7.

  2. MS can't win, and it's because of people like you. If they turn UAC up, users (like you: "the very annoying User Access Control") complain it's annoying. If they turn UAC down, users (like you) complain that they're harming security.

    That leaves changing it substantially, which to me seems like a strange suggestion coming from someone with your background. To home users, it's really pretty similar to something like the grapicial, on-demand sudo prompts you get in Linux, though there are some differences. I wrote up a Slashdot post about the comparison a couple days ago... I'll link it in a second because I still can't copy and paste into this edit box while in Firefox for some reason.


    (Be sure to read both replies too; both are very good. The first one corrects a relatively small mistake I made; I was trying to infer Windows's behavior from how the UI works and got some stuff wrong. The stuff in that comment is exactly what this article is about. The second reply mentions a big UAC annoyance that I had forgotten -- trying to run elevated stuff from the command prompt.)

    On the balance I do think that the typical way Sudo is set up on, e.g., Ubuntu is better-designed than UAC is, but at the same time I don't think that the "I have to type my password again" annoyance is very different at all between the platforms.

  4. When Vista came out all the Linux folks were so full of glee--Vista was so bad that people would flock to alternatives, and those who couldn't afford Macs would flock to Linux. Didn't happen. Why? Because we let the opportunity sail past.

    While Windows 7 has been given some serious hype and is marginally better than Vista (seems the only thing that is better is somewhat lower hardware requirements) there are still problems with it, and Linux can still ride the coattails of this new Windows release to new market share heights. I don't mean soaring to Firefox-level market share, not overnight at least. But a time when many people are contemplating a "change" to their computing already seems to be a good time to offer a real change.

    Anyway, what's needed is a real grass-roots effort to offer Linux, of any distro, as an alternative. Not that it's really going to happen, but that's what's needed. And it doesn't have to happen *now* either, it's just that now is a good opportunity.

    Anyway, just my 2 cents.


  5. I think you gave me a great idea for some blog posts. There's another in the queue already for next week, then I'll look at switching gears for a little while. Thanks!

  6. I see an awful lot of articles and I honestly can't tell if they're paid advertisement masquerading as articles. They have names like "10 things W7 has that Linux doesn't" - and when you bother to look it's not even an interesting article because it doesn't talk about anything substantial. Ooh! W7 has CLIPPY and Linux doesn't!

  7. Well i am happy with window XP..its really nice..and i don't want another one...

  8. Something else to know is that Windows 7 is still vulnerable to viruses, so you really do need to have anti-virus software on your Win7 PC ... for those of you that are running Windows.

    Lesson learned? You still need to run anti-virus on Windows 7. (#5 in your list above sort of mentions this anyway.)


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