Ta da! A new Windows emerges from Vista's dark shadow

It's hard not to conclude that the glitz has gone out of operating system launches. To anyone who remembers the launch of Windows 95, all the succeeding iterations of Microsoft's desktop operating system have failed to develop the same level of hype.

I didn't go to the Windows 7 launch last week, being in the thick of a print deadline, but I've been running the OS since the Release Candidate came out. It's a significant improvement on Vista, somewhat (though not massively) faster and more responsive and just generally less annoying.

So far at least, it has been pretty well received and it certainly won't encounter the kinds of driver incompatibility issues Vista had to deal with.

On loading Windows 7, though, I was more relieved to be rid of Vista than excited about the new product. But then again, I wonder, why should we get excited about an operating system anyway?

Historically, Microsoft has sought to brand the desktop and make Windows into the environment you swim in. But operating systems should neither be seen nor heard, in my opinion. The less obtrusive they are the better.

I get excited by applications that will actually do stuff that I need to do without destroying my soul in the process. Mostly, these are simple applications, often free, often open source. Applications such as Irfanview for simple picture editing for the web and Audacity for audio.