Chris Alexander

On Engineering

Windows 7 - More for consumers?

2nd November, 2010

On Sunday night, the SD card in my phone became corrupt when I plugged it in to my PC (I don’t know why) - but that’s a story for another day. It was when I was fixing it that I realised about how Windows, in the past 5 or 6 years, has moved gradually into a truly consumer-space operating system.

What do I mean by this?

Well think back to the days of Windows XP. It really was the do-it-all operating system - developers could get right down into the system internals and hack around as they pleased with their apps, and you could get a lot of applications which bypassed OS components to perform functionality for you; in this case, formatting bad memory cards.

Nowadays, with Windows 7, I found this to be largely impossible. When the standard formatter failed (both on quick and long mode) on my messed up SD card, there were no hacky applications around for me to install, risk the stability of my system with, and have a go at fixing it.

So, I did what any geek would do and booted into Ubuntu (I still have the install on a separate partition from back in the day) and as I write mkdosfs is helpfully formatting the card for me. This is a card that isn’t even mountable on Windows or Ubuntu it is so corrupt!

My point is this: in the last few years, Linux has matured in such a way that geeks, developers, and generally those interested are able to boot it up to perform the more hardcore computing tasks you may need done for particularly tricky situations; and if needs be, you can make use of it on a day to day basis (what with the cloud and all that). But in the same time, Windows has matured from something you would play around with at home because you use it all day at work/school, to a truly consumer-ready operating system which is capable of being deployed to end users on their computers and really not having to worry about it after that (unless they do something really spectacular).

So good job Microsoft and the Linux community, and Happy 1st Birthday (for last week) to Windows 7 :)