By Harry McCracken | Wednesday, March 11, 2009 at 9:45 pm
Ever since Microsoft started to share early versions of Windows 7 with the world last October, the response has been, for the most part, pretty darn enthusiastic. At least when it comes to folks who blog, write for magazines, and otherwise have soapboxes to speak from. But vast quantities of civilian Windows users–including quite a few Technologizer community members–downloaded and installed the Windows 7 beta during the time it was available. I wanted to give more of these savvy laypeople a chance to share their experiences and impressions. So a couple of weeks ago, we launched a survey (using PollDaddy’s excellent service) to let them speak out. And the results are in.
In the end, they aren’t startling: Most of our survey respondents like what they’ve seen of Windows 7 so far. They reported surprisingly few technical problems considering it’s a beta, and most of them liked most of the OS’s new and improved features. Really liked them, in many cases
Background/disclaimers: A little over 200 people took the survey. We didn’t screen them or capture demographic info. You might argue that folks who are interested enough in Windows 7 to go through the trouble of installing it now would be more predisposed to like it than the teeming masses who won’t give it any thought until it ships. You might also point out that it’s possible that the beta makes a better impression than the final version will, once it’s installed on shipping PCs and in some cases larded up with unnecessaryware . You may well be right. But that’s okay: The goal of this survey is to see what people who have actually used the OS in its first public form think. And hey, once Windows 7 does ship, we can field another survey. Probably will, in fact.
The report that follows is divided into four parts; here are links to all of them in case you feel like skipping ahead…
Part one: The Basics: Usage, Setup, Glitches
Part two: Feature-by-Feature Feedback
Part three: Windows 7 vs. the Competition
Part four: The Bottom Line and Verbatim Feedback
Most respondents told us they’d banged away at the Windows 7 beta enough to get a good sense of its pros and cons–87 percent said they’d used it extensively or a fair amount:
Even shipping operating systems have been known to fail to install on a surprising percentage of PCs. But for a beta, Windows 7 installed on most respondents’ computers without much hassle. Actually, 90 percent of respondents said they had no trouble installing it at all. Eight percent said they encountered a non-serious issue, and two percent had to deal with a severe setup issue.
Once the OS was on the computer, the most common problems folks found by far were missing drivers and apps that wouldn’t run–reported by 23 and 22 percent of respondents, respectively. Thirteen percent reported features that didn’t work as expected or crashes/blue screens. All other issues appeared to be rare–including poor performance. (94 percent of respondents were apparently satisfied by how fast the Windows 7 beta ran.)