What you hoped
Two general sentiments were expressed back in the day when Windows 7 was just a name to us all.
The first, echoed by a lot of people, was that Microsoft should no longer promise the world, and then deliver Belgium. The Windows Vista/Longhorn development cycle promised a lot of features, and even though most of those actually did make the cut (only WinFS was truly scrapped), Vista did not resemble the 2003-2004 Longhorn showcases at all. With Windows 7, the company did not promise anything, and what it did promise has already been delivered in the beta.
The second one is one thing we could all agree upon here at OSNews: we would've really liked to see less different versions of Windows. The various versions are confusing, and don't really seem to serve us consumers in any meaningful way. Many people want to go back to the simple days of yore, when you just had Windows XP Home and Professional; then came Vista, and we suddenly had 373298 different versions with feature sets governed by anything but logic.
With Windows 7, Microsoft is alleviating the situation up to a point. Western consumers will only ever see Windows 7 Home Premium and Professional, with Home Basic and Starter eliminated from the Western market. However, when it comes to netbooks, there's a chance Microsoft will offer Windows Starter anyway. In addition, the other versions still exist and will most likely find their way to online retailers as OEM copies. Another thing that makes the version frenzy a little less problematic is that each higher-priced version will be a superset of the lower priced version.
What you predicted
Obviously, our loving, caring, and always exquisitely articulated readers had a lot to say on the subject, with many of you being spot-on.
One comment in particular that stood out to me, and that proved to be painfully accurate (well, painful for Microsoft) is a comment by archiesteel. "Isn't three years a bit soon to release the next version? That could lead many people to hang in with WinXP and leapfrog over Vista," archisteel noted, "To me, five years is a better timeframe for major Windows upgrades (just like game consoles)." As we all know by now, this is a prediction that has turned into reality. Vista adoption is painfully slow, with many people stating they'd rather wait for Windows 7, holding out on Windows XP for now.
Another accuracy award goes to Hae-Yu, who captured everything we know about Windows 7 in one single paragraph - and he did so when Windows 7 was just a name. "Windows 7 will probably be an incremental upgrade on Vista, in the same way that Leopard, Tiger, etc are for OS X. It will clean up problem areas and probably add a new major feature or 2," he wrote. Well, what can you add to that?
Hae-Yu wasn't the only one accurately stating what Windows 7 would be. Kaiwai, one of our top regulars, stated more or less the same. "To me Windows Vista was a 'infrastructure release' where all the infrastructure relating to those new technologies were merged and 'Windows 7' will be a release that takes advantage of those new frameworks," Kaiwai wrote. This indeed seems to be the case. The new features put in place by Vista are now being used in a proper fashion - a good example of this is HomeGroup, which builds on various new network technologies that were introduced in Vista.
There was an article about Windows 7 being highly modular, and subscription-based. While Microsoft is indeed working on the modularity of Windows (especially relevant on the server side of things), the subscription thing did not come to fruition. PlatformAgnostic realised this immediately: "There's no evidence that I can see of Win7 being a subscription based OS or something sold piecemeal in modules (except in the embedded versions, which have been modular since XPe)."
Of course, we also had a few comments that weren't so spot on. Let's have a laugh, shall we?
For instance, I myself made a number of very bad predictions, such as this gem. "Windows Vista is Microsoft's OS9. It's done, it's used used up, there's no more stretch in the elastics, as we Dutch say," I wrote, "It's time to move on, and make a viable plan for the future - and I don't see how Microsoft can maintain its relevancy by building atop Vista."
To illustrate how wrong I was, let's look at my conclusion in the review of the Windows 7 Beta: "As it currently stands, Windows 7 feels like a very solid release, with the first beta being better than the final release of Windows Vista." Since Windows 7 is a refinement of Windows Vista, I was pretty wrong when I said Vista was the end of the line.
Luckily, I'm not the only one who fell on his bum. Kaiwai took a random stab at predicting the state of the competition once Windows 7 came out. "By the time [Windows 7] happens, Mac OS X will have ZFS booting, and numerous other things - possibly 15-20% marketshare, he wrote, "Linux will be making inroads as wine application support improves, and vendors jump on board to provide at the very least, support for their applications running through wine." None of that is the case, but don't write this comment off just yet. Given Microsoft's track record, basically everyone more or less assumed that Windows 7 would be released in 2011 at the earliest; by then, Kaiwai's predictions could indeed be perfectly valid. Sorry to pick on you, resident kiwi, but I thought this one was too funny to pass up.
A conclusion to an article like this makes little to no sense. It's just a random selection out of our vast archive of stories and comments, just to give a general idea of what we were all thinking back then. The only sane conclusion we can draw from this is that we can all be analysts if we so desire.
What's also clear is that many of us here at OSNews are longing for something truly new from Microsoft. As nice as Windows 7 is turning out, it's still Windows, and it will still suffer from the same flaws as Vista - just less apparent. I'm still hoping for a truly new operating system from Microsoft for the future, but after this little trip down prediction lane, I'm refraining from commenting on the future of Windows.
My track record is abysmal.
- Windows 7 predictions, 1/2
- Windows 7 predictions, 2/2