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September 23, 2008

Windows 7 Losing Features, And That is Good

CNET is reporting that the next version of Windows will not have the email, photo and video editors baked in as they are with Vista and XP.  They will be replaced by optional downloads that connect to comparable Windows Live functionality.  Microsoft on one hand opens up the desktop for competition.  There are plenty of third party clients and editors available that can fill this void.  On the other hand, the Microsoft solutions lead to Microsoft online services and potentially a greater cloud footprint for displaying ads.

Windows Mail may be a good replacement for Outlook Express, though with the rise of webmail, is it really a necessary part of the operating system?  Consider the problem of keeping mail on one machine and backing up the mailboxes externally in case of a machine crash.  Then there's the problem of actually restoring the mailbox after the crash.  These are not user friendly tasks in Windows.  Migrating mail from one machine to another is another problem, not matter what tools Microsoft includes to automate the task. 

Video and graphics editors have their own unique issues.  There are enough suites out there that are just as popular with users, from Sony's Home Studio software, that from Roxio, to professional software such as Adobe's Creative Suite. Photo Gallery and Movie Maker are nice, but in light of alternatives, not necessarily compelling. 

Microsoft should now think seriously about stripping the Media Player and Media Center from Windows 7 as well.  The idea of making Windows the center of the record and playback for television, DVDs and music isn't bad.  It's that commercial alternatives exist for these features, even from Microsoft.  Users should have a choice that fits their needs.  Not everyone will keep their machine next to their cable or satellite box, and not everyone will need to store their music collection on their hard drive.  Microsoft approaches this part of the OS as a one size fits all.  Use the MS media player, and be stuck with their library.  Custom installs for independent media packages should allow for just the right mix of functionality that a user needs.  Time for the OS to go back to being the OS and letting the users decide what software works best for them.   [MG]

September 23, 2008 | Permalink


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