Thursday, January 21, 2010
Thoughts on Windows 7 and the hardware / software balance

(I admit in advance that this post is an excuse to try blogging from a Windows 7 desktop gadget.)

I'm approaching the end of my third month back on a PC at work. With Microsoft as one of Waggener Edstrom's clients, it was natural that my PC was already Windows 7-based when I started. So what's it like being back? And what is MS' much-lauded new OS all about?

Firstly, I never used Vista. I didn't even touch it once. It completely passed me by during the MacBook years. I think that's important to note, based on how 7 was supposed to be its antithesis. And my netbook is based on XP, which feels comfortable and, well, normal.

Windows 7 feels normal too. It doesn't do anything unexpected. It doesn't show off. It looks nice and friendly. It's as quick as XP, if not quicker. It needs, like the ads say, less steps to do things. Still not as few as it takes on Apple's OSX, but it's similar, and just as intuitive.

The main thing about 7, in my view, is the lightness. The need and desire for PC power is diminishing. It's all about form factor nowadays (that's size and shape to you and me). Smaller PCs and usable tablets are driving gadget design. Hardware is shaping software again.

It is at that moment, in my view, when things get cool. Remember the explosion in gaming consoles, when the original Sony PSP and Nintendo DS launched? The innovations that happened then were because people wanted home-quality gaming, and they wanted it on the bus. Hardware desire gave software development a kick up the arse, and the result was a leap forward.

Thanks to the big companies seeing how real people have changed, we're about to see the same in the e-reader / tablet / netbook space.

Computing is stll at the beginning of its journey back to basics, and the results are going to be fun to watch.