New Windows 7 Backup Support Mostly Just a Marketing Opportunity

Data backup companies are wasting no time touting their new, upgraded Windows 7-compatible backup systems for desktops, laptops, servers and online storage. But little or nothing has been upgraded in the actual backup apparatus-it's virtually all in the user interface.

With the official launch of Microsoft's Windows 7 on Oct. 22, the requisite announcements from myriad companies with products that support the new operating system are coming fast and furious.
This certainly holds true for a growing number of data backup companies that are wasting no time touting their new, upgraded Windows 7-compatible backup systems for desktops, laptops, servers and online storage.
Microsoft includes its own backup system in Windows 7 with the System Image and Backup feature. However, many users prefer their own trusted third-party backup software, and just about all the most well-known providers in the sector have announced upgrade versions that support Windows 7. These include Symantec's Veritas, Arkeia Software, BakBone Software, Memeo, Connected, Dantz, RepliWeb, Seagate i365, Iron Mountain Digital and iDrive.
But this raises some questions: What exactly are you getting when you buy a "Windows 7-supported" backup system, whether online or not? How much difference does the operating system make?

And exactly how much of a marketing opportunity is this, anyway? A big one, apparently. Plenty of people believe that as soon as the new operating system comes out, they need to go out and buy a new "optimized" backup for it. This is certainly not always the case.
"Most of it just has to do with the UI [user interface] and how it displays in Windows 7," Piper Bartels, product manager at Memeo, a 6-year-old backup software provider, told eWEEK. "There are a few minor tweaks that we made. But really, when you're using the applications, it's going to appear the same on Windows 7 as they will on Vista or XP.
"Windows 7 just has different ways of rendering things, so we had to program it a little bit differently. They [Memeo backup applications] will look the same now across the different platforms."
Memeo, which Marketing Director Robert Phillips said works toward "simplifying your digital life," makes a couple of versions of its data backup software (file backup only): Memeo Instant Backup for nontechnical users and Memeo Premium Backup for more sophisticated users. The company tag line for its backup application: "So Simple Even a Grandparent Can Use It."
There were some issues that had to be addressed in order for Memeo's software to be viewed correctly in Window 7, and they were important, Phillips told eWEEK.
"They certainly wouldn't have looked the same if we hadn't done this integration," Phillips said. "As with any new OS, there are some issues that may make it not function correctly, so we definitely put time and effort into those changes."
But these are related only to the UI-not to the backup apparatus itself.
"We didn't add any new backup features or anything into the new version specifically for backing up Windows 7," Phillips said.
As for online backup for Windows 7 systems, there is even less change involved.
"The short answer: It doesn't really matter what OS you're using (we support XP, Vista, Win 7 and Mac OS)," David Friend, CEO of Carbonite, told eWEEK.
And were whatever changes Carbonite had to make for Windows 7 all about UI?
"Pretty much," Friend said. "For example, the Win 7 Explorer has a different API, so to put our little green dots on files and folders required some code to be rewritten."
But that was it.
So outside of a little extra code written to make the UI meld correctly with Windows 7, there is really nothing new in Windows 7 backup-no matter how splashy the "Win 7-optimized" ads and marketing materials may appear.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...