Could Windows 7 accomplish everything that's expected of it? Probably not, but it makes a damn good attempt. We've tested the gold master, the final version going out on October 22. Upgrade without trepidation, people. With excitement, even.
Windows 7 is not quite a "Vista service pack." It does share a lot of the core tech, and was clearly designed to fix nearly every bad thing anyone said about Vista. Which ironically puts the demon that it was trying to exorcise at its heart. What that means is that Windows 7 is what Vista should have been in the public eye—a solid OS with plenty of modern eye candy that mostly succeeds in taking Windows usability into the 21st century—but it doesn't daringly innovate or push boundaries or smash down walls or whatever verb meets solid object metaphor you want to use, because it had a specific set of obligations to meet, courtesy of its forebear.
That said, if you're coming from Windows XP, Windows 7 will totally feel like a revelation from the glossy future. If you're coming from Vista, you'll definitely go "Hey, this is much better!" the first time you touch Aero Peek. If you're coming from a Mac, you'll—-hahahahaha. But seriously, even the Mactards will have to tone down their nasal David Spadian snide, at least a little bit.
The Long Shadow of Windows Vista
The public opinion of Windows Vista—however flawed it might have been—clearly left a deep impact on Microsoft. While we've got final Windows 7 code, it's hard to look 2 1/2 months into the future to predict what the Windows 7 launch will be like. However, based on this code, and the biggest OS beta testing process in history, it sure won't look like the beleaguered Vista launch at all.