TRAVIS WALTERS News Editor
Microsoft can’t seem to catch a break these days – governments sue them; Apple pounds away at them with its “Get A Mac” ads; and Vista continues to provide fodder for Apple, bloggers, disgruntled users and anyone who has had to use it since its phased release in late 2006 and early 2007.
Criticism of Vista is so widespread it warrants its own Wikipedia page just to cover it all.
Nine years ago the United States Justice Department sued Microsoft for antitrust violations over the way it bundles its Internet Explorer software with the Windows operating system, but their attempt to separate Internet Explorer from Windows failed.
The European Commission, Europe’s antitrust authority, similarly went after Microsoft in 2004 because of the way they bundle Windows Media Player with Windows.
The European Commission was successful in a way. They fined Microsoft $1.3 billion, and required that they release two version of Windows – one with and one without the media player. The two versions were priced the same and the version without the media player didn’t sell.
The European Commission will now be doing the same thing the Department of Justice tried and failed to do; force Microsoft to strip Internet Explorer from Windows.
At the end of 2008, Internet Explorer’s worldwide market share stood at 68.2 percent, down 10.4 percent from the same time last year. It’s largest rival, Mozilla’s Firefox, gained 27.3 percent to finish the year with 21.3 percent market share. The remaining browsers to gain market share were Apple’s Safari browser, gaining in popularity because of the rising number of Mac users, and Google’s Chrome browser. The only browser not to gain any market share was from Norwegian software developer Opera Software ASA.
Microsoft keeps going through the negative press, the billions in fines and market share dropping for the first time in years.
We’ve all heard by the now that Microsoft didn’t do such a good job at developing, launching or updating their last Windows release, Vista. It promised so much when they first announced it under its codename, Longhorn.
Yet, upon release the horns were gone and what we saw was nothing more than a malnourished heifer with a mild case of mad cow disease (no more bovine analogies, I promise).
On Jan. 9 of this year they released the public beta of their next operating system, Windows 7. Microsoft has finally done away with naming schemes that seem to promise more than they can deliver.
I downloaded and installed the beta and am happy to announce it was quite painless. It took less than 20 minutes to install on my Macbook Pro.
The overall system is much more responsive and intuitive. Windows 7 is what Vista should have been, and I’m sure Microsoft knows that, and I’m sure Apple won’t pass up on the opportunity for Justin Long’s “I’m a Mac” to say so.
Anyone who used Vista is, by now, intimately familiar with the loathsome, “Windows needs your permission to continue,” dialogues. Those are gone. They even changed the color of the icon, hoping, I’m sure, that everyone would just forget that relentless annoyance.
The system memory footprint is much smaller, allowing it to run on more hardware and faster at that. The user interface has been streamlined and is more intuitive and less intrusive.
Programs can be docked in the task bar and your most frequently used files or locations associated with those programs can be launched by right clicking and selecting from what they call “jump lists.” They’ve also improved the way connected devices interact with the OS, and the way power management works on laptops. They’ve added touch screen support and improved handwriting recognition, among other features.
Microsoft even tried for a little humor in the beta, the default desktop is a Siamese fighting, or betta; fish.
Perhaps Windows 7 will actually sell more copies than its predecessor. Windows Vista still undersells its predecessor, Windows XP.
I think Microsoft got the names backward though, Vista should have been called XP. After all, it was quite an experience, not pleasant, but an experience nonetheless.