So some “top secret” screenshots have been making the rounds of various gadget blogs, purporting to be leaked demos of Windows 7 — except they probably aren’t, according to some. And tonight at the All Things D conference (which I kind of wish I had been able to go to) Bill Gates and Steve “Monkeyboy” Ballmer will be showing some highlights of the new operating system. A writer at Ars Technica says he is “pumped” about this news. Personally, I couldn’t care less. Vista was effectively a non-existent event for me, and Windows 7 isn’t likely to change that.
I’m not one of those Mac fanboys you see around the blogosphere, mind you. I like the Mac interface a lot, and I would happily use a Macbook Pro if someone wanted to donate one, but at the moment I’m using a bog-standard black box that I bought for $350 at a local computer outlet. It doesn’t run Windows though — it’s running Ubuntu with the KDE desktop, which provides all kinds of icons and toolbars and touchy-feely GUI stuff that Windows users (and Mac users) like. I switched to Ubuntu about a year ago and haven’t looked back.
I still have a Windows machine on my desk as well, but I’m running XP. Why? The same reason I suggest to all of my friends that they do the same: there simply isn’t any compelling reason to switch to Vista, period. When I moved to XP it made a lot of sense — there was multi-user switching (great if you have a family) and better networking support. Vista, as far as I can tell, has a bunch of eye-candy interface stuff that does absolutely nothing apart from hogging a lot of RAM. I use the Windows machine for things that I can only do on Windows, and that’s mostly work-related (Outlook, etc.).
But doesn’t Ubuntu take a lot of fiddling? Sometimes. I’ve had to look some things up on the Internet to figure them out. But then, I had to do that with Windows too (and with a Mac, to be honest). And Ubuntu has come a long, long way from the earlier versions of Linux I played around with — it is almost plug-and-play with just about everything, including printers, wireless, cameras and USB devices (although it’s not so good with webcams). And it handles my iPod better than a Windows machine with iTunes ever did. Windows is now like that crazy old uncle I tolerate, but don’t really pay much attention to.