Microsoft on Feb. 22 released Windows 7 Service Pack 1, the first major update to its latest operating system. For the most part, the update includes fixes that should make the OS work a tad bit better than it has in the past. And as one might expect, Microsoft is pressing consumers and enterprise customers to download the update because of that.
But asMicrosoft fixes Windows 7 with a service pack, perhaps it should look for other ways to improve Windows’ standing in the marketplace. While the operating system is still the most widely used desktop operating system in the world, there are plenty of people who dislike it for its many flaws. And it’s widely cited as a less-secure offering than it could be.
Simply put, there are still many Windows-related problems that Microsoft must start to fix.
Read on to find out what they are.
1. It’s still too bloated
For years now, Windows has been bloated. And to some extent, that’s understandable. Microsoft needs to support legacy applications that date back many years. But maybe the time has come for Microsoft to turn its back on some legacy applications and hardware. All that bloat slows performance and uses too much of the processing power built into today’s personal computers. This factor also makes the operating system more at-risk for security problems. Too much bloat is a big problem with Windows. And it should be addressed.
2. The security problems are real
Much of the talk surrounding Windows 7 has been that it’s a more secure operating system than Windows Vista when that platform was first released. By most measures, that’s true. But Windows 7 still suffers from security problems that range from stealing data to totally corrupting a hard drive. In other words, the security problems that affect Windows are very real and very serious. And Microsoft must do everything it can to continue to block attacks by cyber-criminals to stem some of the problems that continue to break out.
3. And they’re getting worse
As security problems continue to impact Windows users around the globe, it’s worth mentioning that the problems continue to get worse. Years ago, removing a threat was much easier than it is now. And the risks today seem to be much higher as more and more people find their personal information stolen by a malicious hacker. As numerous security experts and companies have mentioned over the years, security threats won’t get any better or easier to handle. Since Windows remains an inviting target for those cyber-criminals, the onus is on Microsoft to try to make things a little better.
4. The App Store issue
On Jan. 6,Apple launched its highly anticipated Mac App Store, a marketplace that lets users download applications to their Mac OS X Snow Leopard installation. The experience mimics that on the iPad and iPhone. And it goes a long way in making Mac OS X a more appealing operating system. But so far, Microsoft doesn’t have a competitor in Windows 7. Developers and consumers are starting to see that as a void. The longer Windows 7 lacks an app store, the more developers will gravitate to Mac OS X. And in the process, those looking for more functionality might just turn to Mac OS X. Microsoft simply can’t allow that to happen.
Time to Restore Windows Credibility
5. The identity crisis hasn’t been solved
One of the biggest problems with Microsoft over the years has been that it’s still defined by some critics as that “Evil Empire” that uses Windows to rule the technology world. Now, more discerning analysts of the space will realize that Microsoft’s influence in the tech space has declined somewhat in recent years. But the fact remains that Microsoft still wields tremendous market power. For that reason, there are many computer users who have switched to alternative operating systems and many more who would like to because they no longer want to contribute to Microsoft’s wealth and technological dominance. Unless Microsoft finds a way to address that issue, Windows will always look like the tool Microsoft uses to rule the world.
6. How will it address the cloud?
When Google showed off Chrome OS, its cloud-based operating system that it plans to bring to lightweight notebooks and other platforms, some wondered how Microsoft would respond. After all, Microsoft sells the world’s top operating system, and that platform just so happens to be offline. Will the company bring a full-fledged Chrome OS competitor to the market? Will it ignore Google’s idea? No one knows for sure right now. But the sooner Microsoft makes a decision on cloud-based operating systems, the better it will be for the company.
7. Mac OS X is doing things right
Even though Apple’s operating system still carves out just a small slice of the worldwide operating-system market, Mac OS X is a fine example of what can be achieved in the OS space. The platform is lightweight, it’s well-designed, and it comes with far fewer security problems than Windows. Admittedly, some say that Mac OS X simply hasn’t been tested enough by cyber-criminals for anyone to make a truly informed call on its security, but its use of sandboxing and administrator permission settings has helped keep Mac OS X users away from some problems. Those factors must be acknowledged. Outside of security, Mac OS X does a lot of things right. And it’s arguably a more reliable operating system than Windows. If Microsoft can deliver a more Mac OS X-like experience with Windows 8, it could go a long way in improving its own standing in the OS market.
8. Pulling the enterprise from XP
The corporate world has always been integral to the success of Windows. If it weren’t for so many companies choosing Windows over other operating systems, Microsoft wouldn’t be Microsoft. But after the mistake that was Vista was addressed by Windows 7, Microsoft hoped the enterprise would ditch XP for its new operating system. So far, some companies have,and others haven’t. Part of that is due to the Great Recession and tight budgets, but another part of that is due to concern over whether or not Windows 7 is right for their operations. This year, Microsoft should work with companies and make them realize that a timely switch to Windows 7 is a good idea.
9. Overcoming Vista anger
The enterprise wasn’t the only stakeholder that was disappointed by the manifold shortcomings of Windows Vista. Vendors such as Dell and HP offered customers the right to “downgrade” their Vista installation to Windows XP. And consumers who feared that Vista was a bloated, poorly designed and potentially malware-ridden mess considered switching to Mac OS X or even open-source Linux. Along the way, Microsoft tried to make the case that those stakeholders should opt for its operating system. It didn’t work. And Microsoft looked bad. Now that Windows 7 has been available for over a year,the unrest over Vista is starting to subside. But it’s still out there in the enterprise and consumer markets to some extent. Microsoft needs to make a better case that Windows 7 is what Vista should have been. No more, no less.
10. Commanding the conversation
One of Microsoft’s biggest problems related to Windows all these years has been that it doesn’t fully determine the course of the discussion surrounding Windows. It allows the aforementioned critics to take it to task on security, Windows Vista, Microsoft’s standing in the industry and much more. Going forward, Microsoft needs to find a way to take back the high ground in the debate and make sure people talk more about Windows’ value, rather than its problems. It might be difficult at this point, given how many folks have targeted Microsoft over the years, but it’s an absolute necessity.