Not many people remember the problems Windows XP had before Service Pack 2. The Blaster and Sasser worms had almost ruined the security record of the OS. On top of that Internet Explorer 6 had security patches almost every week. What’s amazing is that, this is the same OS that people love now. They prefer XP over Vista! XP is hailed to have been the perfect OS. Microsoft has even increased XP downgrade rights by six months now.I can only imagine, how people would think like this about Vista too after some time.

But this is just a thought. Vista has been the second ME. Not just because of any bugs people find in it. It introduced a lot of new features, driver support and many other compatibility breaking things. SP 1 has reduced all this though, but still the fate of Vista was to be like ME from the beginning. Let me start with the beginning to explain this further.

Once upon a time, people were happy with Windows 98. Even though you had to know the Ctrl + Alt + Del combination to know when to restart the computer in case of hang ups. People were satisfied with it, until Windows ME arrived. It had System Restore, built in ZIP files compression and extraction and many others that later became a part of Windows forever. To this day, people still hate ME. Why? Because most hardware didn’t work out of the box. Drivers were hard to find. It broke some applications for many people. ME was also the first attempt to get rid of DOS behind the OS. So, many applications would work well. Windows 2000 was a solid OS. Although it wasn’t recommended for home usage, but it still provided rock hard stability when compared to ME. XP combined the best features of ME and 2000 and made almost everyone happy. Well, apart from those who stuck to Windows 98 that time, like they stick to XP right now. Do we see a pattern here? Yes, history is repeating itself.

Windows has such a huge user base, that people never take major changes in the OS easily. Even though it might make no difference to them for their normal usage, but as they say, even the slightest change in a button can cause novices to get lost in the OS. Is Microsoft to blame for that? No.

Either Microsoft can go at full throttle and completely introduce new features all the time, or they can keep their user base in mind and cater to them, but slowly and carefully introducing features and making changes that wouldn’t make a difference to the end user, but would improve their usage in a good way.

This is evident from the Engineering Windows 7 blog. The blog is a great way of connecting with end users and there has been a healthy discussion going on there. The latest post on Managing Windows windows proves how Microsoft does listen to its users. It also shows how many variables and parameters are there to be taken care of behind every decision, small or large, behind the Windows OS. It’s also obvious by now, that Windows 7 will be the next Windows XP. Vista is good, no doubt. But 7 would be better. How? Because it’ll improve on the base that was laid down with Vista. The drivers and APIs have already been introduced. The new features seem to be related to usability issues and complaints that were introduced with Vista. Performance and stability is also being worked on for 7. And no doubt, these are the most important things from a user perspective.

What’s your opinion on 7? Any predictions based on the history of Windows? Share with us in the comments.