Saturday, January 24, 2009

What's so important about Windows 7?

I've posted several times on Windows 7 this month.  Perhaps I should explain why I think Windows 7 is important.
  1. Microsoft is in a revenue slump. It's December quarter was awful, in part because worldwide PC sales fell of a cliff, and in part because Windows Vista revenues are a smaller portion of OS revenues than expected.  Microsoft rather desperately needs the PC OS engine to be throwing off its traditional profit pools.
  2. The market for Vista is poisoned.  When Vista came out a little over two years ago it was skewered by the press and analysts.  First, it was rushed to market, and the bugs were easy to identify.  Second, the new driver model in Vista broke numerous installed devices like printers that had worked happily under Vista's predecessor, Windows XP.  Third, the forced driver certification process that Microsoft instituted with Vista forced end-of-life business decisions on numerous vendors.  It was just too expensive in engineering resources to go back and fix a driver to Microsoft's stringent certification qualifications, not to mention the Microsoft fees.  So working but no-longer-marketed PC products didn't ever work or work well enough with Vista.  Importantly, the public picked up on the tech influencers' rejection of Vista, demanding Windows XP instead.  So, for the first time in Microsoft history, you can to this day buy a PC preloaded with Windows XP, which launched in 2001. The Vista brand was poisoned and that opinion continues in the market today.
  3. There's competition to overcome.  Apple's OS X was still in the labs when Windows XP was delivered.  Today, Apple is pushing 10% of the U.S. consumer market with Mac's running OS X, and making inroads into small business-home business markets.  OS X is universally favorably compared to Windows Vista for usability and, to a lesser degree, performance.  Linux continues to bite the ankles of Vista, picking up some momentum in the (highly profitable) government market.  So, Microsoft needs a more adept competitor to Apple and Linux without the brand liabilities of Vista.
  4. Therefore, Windows 7 is a rebranding of Windows without the baggage of Vista's reputation.  Sort of a witness protection "new start" for an operating system.
  5. The recent "beta" launch of Windows 7 to 2,500,000 lucky downloaders and Microsoft's hundreds of thousands of developer/parter community members was not just some alpha code thrown over the transom as happened with Vista.  Windows 7 beta is the relaunch of Vista; Windows 7 is Vista the way it should have been with a market reputation the way Microsoft assumed they would achieve with Vista.
  6. So far, i have to grade Microsoft's technology efforts and marketing relaunch with an "A".  The beta code is very high quality for a beta.  There is an omnipresent way to send feedback to Microsoft about your beta experience.  Reviewers such as the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg are pleased.  Second, analysts are waking up to the relaunch marketing aspects of the Vista cum Windows 7 transformation.  Here too, the signs are promising, such as here and here.
So, barring a hiccup I don't foresee, Windows 7 will roll out after the back-to-school season this fall as a new, fresh looking, highly competitive product to kudos from the press, analysts, and Wall Street.  That the Windows 7 product has Vista DNA through and through will be irrelevant.  It's all about marketing.  Windows 7 is being successfully positioned right now as the winner that Vista never could achieve.

-- Pete

Friday, January 23, 2009

My Windows 7 Experience

When Peter posted the links for Windows 7 Beta, I went to download it. Then I though I have a membership in Technet so why not download it from them. I downloaded the 64 bit version and installed it on my Athlon X2 4400 w/3GB RAM and a 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7600 GT Video card.

The installation went well with very little problems. As I remember I did have to reinstall one or 2 things in order to get them to work. I have Skype Beta 4, I don't care for the new version of Skype. It takes some time to get used to it.

Everything is working as it should, I also installed Office 2007 on the box and did the 355.8MB of updates for Office.

The only problem I have encountered was Windows 7 said there is a problem with my sound, But I was talking on Skype to Gregg so I know it was working. I did have to reboot a few times to get everything to update correctly. I have a free version of Kaspersky 8 for Windows 7 and I needed to reboot again to get it to update.

As I said I am running Windows 7 64 bit version. this computer is not getting a very good Windows Experience because I used an old hard drive I had sitting around. it's only running at ATA100 and slowed the system down a lot. If I feel like it I will try cloning the drive to a new SATA drive I just received.

Just this morning I see that Microsoft wants to test Windows 7 on some slower computers, Microsoft is looking for testers with machines that adhere to the following spec list:

* 1 GHz processor
* 1 GB of system memory
* 16 GB of available disk space
* Support for DX9 graphics
* DVD-R/W Drive
* Internet access
I am happy with Windows 7 so far, if you have a spare machine laying around why not try Windows 7 Beta, You might be surprised.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 01-18-09

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 01-18-09. You can listen live every Sunday from 10AM to 1PM Pacific that's 1PM to 4PM Eastern. Join us for the live show and chat. If you prefer, you can download the same MP3 file here via ftp.

Can consumers trust disk drive MTBF?

Linked to this post is Seagate's knowledge base, where owners of Seagate's 1 TB 7200.11 drives (including me) will find the six steps to determining whether your Seagate or Maxtor hard drive needs new firmware, and what to do if you lose data on that hard drive.  The problem is serious enough that Seagate is offering to recover lost data for free,

Hard drive failures are second only to Windows corruption in my ongoing headaches of computing in this decade.  I have two Hitachi 500 GB Deskstar drives in the basement pile of electronic junk.  They both failed catastrophically in less than a year of ordinary use.

Hard drive manufacturers quote average hard drive life as Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF).  Ordinary consumer drives are in the 500,000 hour MTBF range, while enterprise (e.g., more expensive) hard drives can range up to 1.5 million hour MTBF.  Since there are 8,760 hours in a 24x7 year, 500,000 hour average MTBF is a lot of years.  Right?  Yeah, 57 years is the answer.  The key word in this consumer claim is "average".  Real drives last anywhere from fifteen minutes to fifteen years.

But based on my own miserable experience, I challenge these vendor 500,00 hour MTBF claims as misleading and unproven.  I'd like to see a state attorney general document what the real  expected life is of a consumer hard drive, and how consumers should treat their drives to maximize life.  For instance, is letting Windows shut an idle disk drive down after 10 minutes or so causing thermal stress with continual power-cycle starts and stops?

What is your experience with hard drive longevity in a consumer environment?

Links from the Gregg Zone

1) I was at one of the downtown casinos the other day, and noticed one of the car give a ways they were using as a promotion was a Smart Car. It kind of caught me of guard because I thought that might mean they were available in the U.S. I saw one a while back in a casino parking lot, but assumed it was someone’s import. Any way got to looking around found an interesting article about John Doerr one of the investment guys that started Google, and Amazon. He was addressing the government about how our green technologies are behind the world, a very interesting article. From there I wound up at the American Smart Car of America site, yes they are in America, quite a few states too. Check them out here
2) This one is a how-to, or how they do it item. I have seen several of those David Blaine street magician shows on T.V. one of the tricks he did that fascinated me was the levitation bit he did on several shows. It is called Balducci Levitation, this is a link to a video that will show how to do it, amaze all the kids next door, and make your neighbor think you are a space alien.
3) I ran across this comment in a story some where that we had a solar storm event in the 1800’s that was so strong it fried telegraph lines on earth, starting numerous wild fires all around the planet. The article was talking about possible future events that might cause us major problems. asteroids, pole shifts and the like, anyway the comment about the storm got me to start googling around. After all when all we had to worry about was telegraph, while it was no doubt destructive, it's nothing like it would be to day. A very scary concept, sounds like it would be much worse than anything that was projected with Y2K.
4) Ever notice how occasionally a single word can catch your eye, and cause some real confusion trying to establish a coherent definition in your mind. Well such word is this one The Noosphere, wow that one set off my spell check. Any way this is defiantly in the “out there” category. Ran across it while cruising through a 2012 site. Yea I know I apologize for last week, this one is in the same category, so be fore warned
5) Now for a geek type link, probably nothing new to this crowd, but this one appealed to me because it sounds like a conspiracy theory gold mine. I think almost every world domination theory could get a boost from this. The threads from this are endless, not to mention it leaves me thinking about that cave in the desert again. Sometimes I am glad I am getting older, I really question if I want to be around to see the new world coming in another fifty years.