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Windows 7 Is NOT a "Vista Service Pack"

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Windows 7 Is NOT a "Vista Service Pack"

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It’s hard to argue with the 127K subscribers to Jeff Atwood’s blog, so when I first read his post titled “Windows 7: The Best Vista Service Pack Ever” I wasn’t immediately sure how to respond. Nonetheless, I would like to try and offer my opinion on some of Jeff’s points, in the hope of giving a different perspective on what Windows 7 really is.

Jeff writes:

Now that Windows 7 has reached its "release to manufacturing" milestone, I had the opportunity to install it for myself and see.

Jeff, I’m sorry, but where have you been for the past 8 months? Microsoft released the M3 build at the PDC in October ‘08, the Beta has been out for several months, the RC has been out since May… If it’s really only now that you first installed the OS, how can you possibly write something as definitive as… (brace yourself…)

Windows 7 is the best Vista Service pack ever.

This one has really got me. Just a quick reminder to my dear readers: There is a whole lot of shiny new features in Windows 7, just to name a few off the top of my head:

  • New taskbar
  • Native multi-touch support
  • Support for up to 256 logical processors
  • Native Ribbon UI
  • Sensor and Location platform
  • Windows Web Services API
  • Trigger-start services
  • Shell libraries
  • …and so many more!

Saying that a major release of the OS, which contains dozens of major new features, is a service pack is not just a slight inaccuracy: It’s borderline irresponsible to the 127K blog readers and the thousands of others who are going to perpetuate this claim. Sure enough, Windows 7 offers significant performance and reliability improvements compared to Vista—but it doesn’t make it a service pack. For this matter, Vista SP2 is almost to par with the performance and reliability of Windows 7. That’s the real service pack.

Jeff writes:

The core of the operating system isn’t that different.

That’s simply not true, regardless of what you define as “the core of the operating system”. The kernel has undergone significant changes, including major scalability improvements; the user interface has been revamped and the initial desktop experience is completely difference; the fundamental Windows applications have a different look and feel; there’s no area of Windows 7 that you can say “isn’t that different”.

Jeff writes:

I think Windows 7 works well as a de-facto Vista service pack. I guess that's not surprising if you compare the version numbers. […] 6.0.6002 […] 6.1.7600

This is another example of poor fact-checking. In October ‘08 Mike Nash wrote on the Windows Blog that the 6.1 version number reflects only the deepest care for application compatibility. There are too many applications out there that break at the first sight of a OS major version change, and keeping the major version number will likely have significantly reduced the number of applications that refuse to run on Windows 7 for no apparent reason.

If you’re still unconvinced that Windows 7 is an incredibly large, major release, take a few minutes to skim through the archives of the Engineering Windows 7 Blog and see the massive amount of effort that has gone into the making of this OS.



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