Pointing fingers: The darker and lighter sides of Windows 7

Check out those whizzy new Windows 7 features! But hey, Vista is still the best operating system ever

It's a classic "good news, bad news" kind of story. Microsoft is finally giving us some hard information about what Windows 7 will look like.

And there's much of interest, including wider use of touch-screen technology (more about that later) and news that the new OS kernel won't represent a break from the past.

Pointing blame away from Microsoft?

But then there's the Windows Advisor. Details are still skimpy, but it appears that the company has a tool in beta that will tell users the source of their operating system problems. (Credit where credit is due. Mary Jo Foley, who has followed Microsoft forever, broke the news in her blog late Tuesday.)

Well, excuse my cynicism, but given the seemingly endless user complaints about Vista, you've got to think that Microsoft would like to deflect some of that blame. According to Foley, here's information that Microsoft gave to its private beta testers:

"While in the past support was limited to a help desk, today the lines are becoming blurred between the various technologies. When a user has a sluggish Internet connection, is it due to a connectivity issue, spyware, a virus, an outdated or poorly maintained computer, the router, a failing hard drive, or simply the customer's impatience? To be effective in today's environment, computer care and support services must be more comprehensive and accurate. That's where we believe Windows Advisor comes in.

"Windows Advisor is an easy-to-use self-help tool that notifies users about problems on their PCs and helps fix them. Windows Advisor scans users' PCs continuously, notifies them about important issues, and, when possible, suggests easy fix solutions."

If Advisor replaces the utterly unhelpful Windows error messages we all hate, that would certainly be a good thing. And to be fair, there are plenty of areas in which vendors, including heavyweights like Hewlett-Packard, have done a poor job supporting Vista, particularly with drivers. But you have to believe it's no accident that the paragraphs above don't even mention Vista. Microsoft has been unwilling to fess up and fix many of the new operating system's shortcomings, which is why InfoWorld has led the charge to keep Windows XP alive.

Touching Windows

A lot of people made fun of Microsoft's Surface computing initiative, as in "Who wants a coffee table for a computer?" But snarky jokes aside, touch-screen technology has tremendous potential.

During a talk by Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer (along with a demo) at the Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital conference, the company said that Surface technology will appear in Windows 7, now due in 2010 or so. Beyond the ability to manipulate digital photos, the demo included a paint program, a piano app that lets a user play what sounded like MIDI tunes by touching the app's virtual keys, and a mashup of data from Windows Live Local and Microsoft Virtual Earth. Users can tap on the map display and quickly drill down to much tighter views and relevant data.

Surface technology will be a world of improvement over Vista's so-so interface if (and it's a big if) the technology is deeply embedded in the OS, and not just used as eye candy on a few spiffy, but nonessential, apps. We'll see.

You can get a better idea of the collaborative potential of advanced touch-screen technology by checking out Perceptive Pixel, whose nine-foot displays can be seen during election coverage on several cable networks.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Bill Snyder

Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?