We began receiving comments on the new Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report Windows 7 operating system almost immediately after my story on the free beta download.

I liked it -- and still like it -- a lot. I think it's a 32-bit version of Windows Vista that works the way it's supposed to. I see that other reviewers and readers who've tried it agree with my assessment.

Windows 7 Is Speed Demon

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For instance, Mark tells me:

I too was very impressed with 7. The trend with Microsoft OS is every other one produced is very good. Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, so if the trend follows 7 looks to be very good. One additional quality that was impressive was that my graphics card resolutions were already set to the highest without loading any drivers. I am wondering if 7 reads the hardware IDs and download the latest drivers from the manufacturers website automatically.

There are some readers who wonder what all the fuss is about. Take Tom Creamer, for instance:

Maybe I'm in a cocoon but I've had Vista Home Premium for over a year. It came on a brand new high-end (but not the highest) Dell desktop. It's fine. It is fast or at least fast to me. I have a DSL connection. I don't do ultra high-end memory stuff like gaming or engineering applications but never had a problem. I spoke to Microsoft help desk personnel a couple of times during the first 30 days on some marginal issues but they provided the necessary pointers and I have never needed additional assistance since. What's all the fuss?

Windows 7 is really an incremental improvement over Windows Vista. That means they looked at the good parts and the bad parts and improved upon everything. If you like Vista the way it is, fine, stick with it. But if you want the latest/greatest features, you'll want 7. Yes, it will cost you to upgrade to 7 but, depending on the price they charge, it should be worth it -- just for the increase in speed. Think of what


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does with its OS upgrades. Simple ones are free while overhauled versions with exciting new features will cost you to upgrade.

Finally, Michael E. Jordan of Calhoun, Ga., spent a lot of time responding to all of the recent Windows 7 reviews, not just my write-up. He raises a lot of great points in his long, well thought-out note. There's also much for the people at Microsoft to ponder when releasing this new software:

I read this article (and a few others) with some interest and with an eye on discerning if Windows 7 may be worth my time or patience or money. I found the articles well written and a good mix of pros and cons concerning the software. The article and links hit all the "Why we disliked Vista themes" squarely on the head, yet miss one very important consideration (maybe two if you include enterprise sales). I'm not a Microsoft hater and have seriously considered Vista, yet can't see how this makes sense to me or to the average home user. Everything I have is running on a Windows platform, all with Microsoft software. Here is the big question I've seen nobody address and really have seen no one attempt to answer. Who is this version of Windows targeted to sell to? In other words, what compelling reason exists to make me or any consumer (who is more than the average home user) run out and buys this new OS? I'm confused as to why I should even consider it as a replacement for any of my machines. Let's see. (Without major investments in all the devices on my home network)... If I buy Windows 7 (what, Super Vista?), I will have the same issues with drivers, accessories, updates and peripherals that I would have with the current Vista offering. My computer exceeds the average system requirements (3.06GHz processor or, 3GB of RAM etc.), but none of my printer drivers are compatible, none of my USB devices have Vista drivers, my digital camera isn't compatible and has no Vista drivers, my video card is not Vista capable (Dual VGA output, dual screen), my customized Windows style keyboard does not have updated drivers, and my 5.1 surround sound system card from Creative Labs does not have Vista drivers. They all work flawlessly with Windows XP Professional though. That is on one of my six computers. Neither of my laptops is rugged enough to run it, my Web server can't run it, my wife's desktop won't run it, my wireless Home music device isn't compatible, virtually none of the other devices attached to my home network can be recognized by Vista (or by Super Vista, Windows 7). My Web server run Windows 2000 Professional and has absolutely no issues to deal with except to run it.

In order to be able to just install and run this one OS on any one of my systems, the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) would be staggering. This is just to make the OS run and I haven't even considered the impact on the software on any of my systems. Imagine how a CTO of a medium-sized company would answer the question from the CEO. "What would the TCO be to update our company to Windows 7?" Confusing pricing strategies don't even make it to the top of the list, once you start to investigate all the other issues. So to be clear, and if I understand the issues clearly and correctly, it isn't targeted at the Power user, can't be seriously considered right now for Enterprise volume licenses, isn't really an upgrade product for older (2003 and prior) machines, is a break from how Windows operates with XP and prior versions, and has serious implications for millions (or hundreds or thousands, depending on whom you believe) of pieces of software that run flawlessly on Windows XP and prior versions, then pray tell, who is this OS going to be sold to? Someone who has one computer, who just checks email and surfs the Internet? As the OS replacement for a new computer purchase? As the OS of choice for college students to play music and games? To a brand-new computer user who won't have to relearn how to use a computer? Of all computer users, how can they seriously think this will attract mass consumption?

I don't have any need for self-flagellation, so it must not be targeted at me. I would have to win the megamillion dollar lottery and then hire a software consultant, a personal geek to fix everything it it breaks and then literally spend thousands of dollars to be able to even think about doing this. This is the part I don't get


You think the public was disappointed with Vista? Wait until they get a load of Super Vista (Windows 7). ... To date, no one has seriously reported this (the TCO nightmare). You should consider what it will cost the average consumer to run it, on a TCO basis and then report that. I think you would be amazed at what the real dollars spent would add up to. This is pretty much the same discussion on why we aren't buying Office 2007 or upgrading at the same rate with any of their development programs (.Net etc), it is why Windows Server products sales are sluggish, and why none of the Fortune 500 (a small number did and most switched back to XP) upgraded to Vista in the first place.It's also why you can buy a laptop right now for around $500 and why they'll give you Vista Premium basically for free. It may be great but who can afford it? If I can't afford it , then it doesn't matter how wonderful it is and I could care less that it looks , acts and feels like a Mac. I'm not a Mac hater either, but I run 100% Microsoft products, so how does making it work like a Mac make me want to buy it? It used to be that I and people like me were the target audience. Doesn't seem that way anymore.

I was impressed with the ability of Windows 7 to quickly search the Web to download and install some oddball drivers that I needed for my computer. It worked very well for me. I would hope others would have the same experience.

I can't tell all my readers whether it is worth upgrading to Windows 7 in their particular setup and situation. But I can say that 7 is an improvement over both Windows XP and Windows Vista. I guess it really is a "Super Vista." If it makes economic sense to you (or what the final software will cost), then you should know that the software, at least in beta form, is very, very good.

Finally, a reminder. Microsoft plans to end its free Windows 7 beta downloads on Feb. 10. If you're interested, you better download it soon.

Gary Krakow is TheStreet.com's senior technology correspondent.