It’s wierd… I know. I’m the last person to defend Microsoft, or anything other than Solaris for that matter, but its true. Windows 7 is pretty non-sucky!
Windows 7 is, frankly, the first OS from Microsoft since Windows 98 that is interesting. I admit that I love the Aero look that came with Vista, but it was a pig. Vista in general was a pig. But Vista also had some high points, such as an iSCSI Initiator by default and PowerShell, an entirely non-sucky command line interface. Windows 7 goes much further though, unlike Vista it feels moderately light-weight although still not as light as Mac OS X. UI touches here and there are welcome, the start bar is massively improved by the excellent run/search textbox, and the control panel is finally in a fairly intuitive layout.
Microsoft has also done something great in allowing you to download and try most of its software for free, including Windows 7, Windows 2008 Server R2, Hyper-V Server R2, etc. There is no way in hell I’d try Windows 7 otherwise. I think it helps cut down on piracy and makes Microsoft much less evil.
On a similar note, Hyper-V Server is free and itself non-sucky. It’s not superior to XenServer or VMWare ESXi, but it’s a solid product in its own right that is perfect for Windows shops and runs Solaris pretty nicely to boot.
It really strikes me that if Microsoft dumped this notion of versions (Basic, Home, Small Business, Ultimate, whatever), dumped the difference between a Full version and an Upgrade version, and adopted a reasonable price of $99, it’s possible… just possible… that Windows 7 could make Windows kool again.
Mind you, Microsoft still has one big problem even after that… there aren’t many interesting applications for Windows. I know that might strike some of you as odd, but as someone who only runs Windows every couple of years for a couple days (typically for BIOS upgrades or something) I look around for kool Windows apps that I’m missing out on… and there aren’t any. Just games. Windows apps still all have a very old feel to them, like nothings changed since Windows 98. I just hate the feel. Clunky and old. Any UNIX platform can do anything you want to do and Mac has a much better selection of really nice apps than Windows.
If you haven’t tried Windows 7, I highly suggest you do. I’ve run it on VMWare Fusion, Solaris xVM, Hyper-V Server, ESXi, VirtualBox, and bare metal… it runs well in any environment. I don’t think I could run it as a daily operating system, but I’d happily dual boot Windows 7 if it was reasonably priced.