As Microsoft prepares Windows 7 for its release later this month, it’s important to realize that there really isn’t a guarantee that it will offer any more value than earlier versions. Recent reports have said that it’s a superior operating system to its predecessors – Windows XP and Windows Vista – but in the software space, that doesn’t mean that it will necessarily be true. There are several factors at play.
One of the most prominent factors is security. Long the thorn in Microsoft’s side, security could make or break Windows 7. If it’s more secure than earlier versions of the software, Windows 7 could be a winner. If not, it could be a loser.
Arguably, security matters most to Windows 7’s success, and to how consumers and IT administrators view the new OS. Here’s why:
1. The enterprise relies on security
There’s nothing worse for an enterprise than deploying an operating system that fails to offer the kind of security it expects. Nowhere is that more evident than in Windows Vista, which turned many companies away prior to the release of Service Pack 1. Windows 7 cannot afford to be insecure. The key customers Microsoft relies on for big profits-corporations-won’t like it.
2. Consumers won’t like it either
Microsoft also needs to worry about consumers. Those that learn that Windows 7 is insecure or vulnerable to viruses and malware will find alternatives for fear of losing their data. Granted, the state of cyber-security in the consumer space is poor. But I’m a firm believer that more people than ever are at least aware of security concerns and the latest attacks. If they find out that an operating system is insecure, they won’t be happy.
3. What about market share?
If Windows 7 is insecure, you can expect Microsoft’s dominance in the operating-system market to slip. Those that were intent on buying Windows 7 prior to its release will learn of its troubles and opt for a different operating system. That could mean Linux or, most likely, Apple will reap the reward.
4. Microsoft’s loss of power
If Windows 7 suffers from insecurity, much of the power Microsoft wields in the computing industry will be eliminated. When Windows XP was at its height, companies like Dell and Hewlett-Packard were forced to “play ball” with Microsoft. If Microsoft required something of those companies, they did it.
10 Reasons Why Reliable Windows 7 Security Is Crucial to Users
title=Fighting for the Security High Ground} But after the downgrade-rights fiasco allowed users to get Windows XP bundled in computers rather than Windows Vista, those vendors regained some power. An insecure Windows 7 will ensure that Microsoft will fully relinquish its grip in that space.
5. Criticism, anyone?
As soon as the news broke that Windows 7 was insecure, you can bet that Apple would jump on it. The company’s “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads have been so successful because they highlight Windows’ security problems when it comes to malware and viruses. An insecure Windows 7 will only maximize Apple’s intent on making Microsoft look bad. Say what you will about Mac OS X, but Apple will be licking its chops if Windows 7 is insecure and open to security attacks.
6. It loses the security high ground
Microsoft has done a relatively good job over the past couple years at rebuilding its standing in the security community. For too long, the company had what looked like a lackadaisical attitude towards security. But in recent years, the rhetoric has ramped up and Microsoft has made it clear that it wants to make Windows far more secure and better at data protection and ensuring network security. An insecure Windows 7 will fly in the face of that. And the security community will take notice.
7. Hackers will take notice
As soon as malicious hackers realized that Windows 7 was insecure, they would immediately jump at the chance to prey on users,while spreading malware. The issues would only escalate, causing Microsoft and Windows 7 to look even worse.
8. Comparisons will be drawn
As Microsoft gets ready to release Windows 7, the company wants everyone to forget about its past mistakes. It doesn’t want users to think of Windows Vista when they load Windows 7. They want them to remember the good old days of PC computing. If Windows 7 is insecure, comparisons between Windows Vista, Windows ME, or Windows 2000 will be immediately drawn. And it will only spell trouble for Microsoft.
9. Confidence will be lost
With not one, but two operating systems not living up to customer expectations, Microsoft would put itself in a bad position. Windows 8 would cause users to be suspect of the operating system’s ability to satisfy their needs security needs and protecting their corporate networks. And Microsoft would need to find a way (probably through cash) to get customers’ minds off of Windows Vista and Windows 7 and on to the future. With two missteps, that might be difficult.
10. It gives Chrome an opening
Microsoft has been forced to take on Google in practically every place it competes. From word processing to search, the company has battled it out with Google. If Windows 7 is a security failure, you can bet that Google will take advantage by promoting its new Chrome OS and its security features. The company will jump at the chance to call it an alternative to Windows. And in the end, it could give Google the opening it needs to capitalize on the OS market.
Security is a major issue for Microsoft Windows. The company doesn’t have an opportunity to slack on it.