I have just returned from working on my first Windows 7 computer and I have one word for my experience; WOW! But, I am not one of those Techno-snobs that need to have the latest and greatest thing just because it is new. I ran Windows 98 longer than any person has the right to just because the alternative was Windows ME (Many Errors), Windows 2000 (not bad but,) and Windows NT (Not Today). I ran Windows 98 two years after Windows XP was released when the bugs were finally worked out. Finally, with great trepidation, I installed Windows XP and crossed my fingers. I have been very happy with XP ever since, until this morning.

After the debacle of Windows Vista, Microsoft had to do something big and XP being a solid and well-accepted operating system, they decided to enhance what they had and call it Windows 7. I heard the early reports that Windows 7 was “intuitive.” I wondered what they meant until this morning. Windows 7 seems to know what you want to do and helps you get it done. I was truly amazed at what I was seeing. 

There are some “growing pains” and a few little nuances that take a little time to get used to, like how to install a printer and some little network things that are moved to new places, but, overall, I am really impressed.

Now for the “but” I mentioned earlier. I am not sure what the thinking was here but Microsoft did not include an e-mail program. Most people use Outlook Express to access their e-mail and most are quite happy with it. Windows Vista has Windows Mail, which is nothing like Outlook Express and that caused some issues but Windows 7 has no e-mail program. Let me repeat that, Windows 7 has no e-mail program. I believe this was done to encourage users to utilize Windows Live (Hotmail) like Qwest does or another online, Web-based e-mail program, but come on now.

Most people love their Outlook Express and will be more than a little upset having to get grouped with all the other free users of Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo e-mail, all Web-based e-mail programs. We get e-mails and calls nearly every day from new Qwest users who are forced to use Hotmail that cannot print e-mails like they used to or are having issues using Hotmail. It is slower than Outlook Express and considerable less personal and/or private. There is an ease of access in these, of course, because you can access them from any computer hooked up to the Internet, but you basically have to stand in line with everyone else all over the world to get your e-mail. How sad. If you have Office, you can use Outlook as before but Office is about $100 for the low-end version.

There are some alternatives to Windows Live and the other Web-based e-mail programs named above; Thunderbird was developed by the FireFox people and is available for download at http://www.mozillamessaging.com/en-US/thunderbird and Eudora can be downloaded at http://www.eudora.com/download, but those are basically your only options and they take a bit of getting used to.

Overall, I am really jazzed about the new Windows 7 and all the functionality of it but the e-mail thing, well, that is progress, right? If you like Windows XP, you will love Windows 7 so your wait for that new computer is over. Windows 7 is fabulous!


Mike Smothers is president of Smothers Computer Services and lives in Ahwatukee Foothills. Send questions to mike@smotherscomputers.com or call (480) 753-7667.

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