Is Windows 7 more reliable than its predecessors?

Is Windows 7 really that much better from previous versions…or than much more reliable?

I am beginning to think not all that much given huge expectations for Win7. After using it for 18 months, my question is a fair one. Microsoft can probably show myriad stats to prove that it is, but there’s no substitute for personal experience over the long term.

I raise the question because I’ve encountered crashes on the three computers I have that run Win7. I’ve gotten the blue screen of death a few times on my Windows 7 netbook and at least once on my spanking new desktop.

And while Win7 is probably not responsible, I’ve encountered frequent problems with Flash and Shockwave on my Win7 notebook. Regardless of fault, it adds up to a perception that  Win7 is going to give me problems from time to time — granted, less often than with XP. But Win7 has not made all the Windows stability problems go away.

In other words, Win7 is not as big a leap as the rosy reviews in 2008 and the first half of 2009 suggest. There are improvements such as the ability to move between apps more quickly. It starts up and shuts much faster for sure. But as time passes, will more problems emerge? It’s an important question now because many forecast that businesses will be heavily moving to Win7 in 2011.

Win7 has a feature called the Reliability Monitor, which started out in life as the Reliability and Performance Monitor in Vista. Like its name suggests, the Reliability Monitor records problems and rates reliability (see graph).

I ran it on my notebook, but it did not tell me much except that I did not shut down my PC correctly and that Chrome and Tweetdeck on two separate occasions stopped responding. It said nothing about my recurring Flash crashes that prevent me from running video and froze my browser. The tool is not much more than lip service to reliability versus something that really helps.

Each Flash crash, I was forced into the Task Manager to back out of the crashed browers (I use IE, Chrome and Firefox) just as I would with XP.

The graph below shows reliability on my new desktop. It recorded a video error, an unexpected shutdown and when Windows simply stopped working. The graph shows high reliability on the 10-scale, but it was about half that on my notebook. The one month old desktop is obviously on top of its Win7 game — for now.

Never once has the “check for a solution” option come up with a solution. I always have to back out of the crashed app through the Task Manager or shut down entirely.

Win7 is more stable than XP, but it’s not bulletproof. Maybe that was unfair expectation.

What’s your experience with Win7? Is Win7 Windows deja vu all over again?

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9 comments On Is Windows 7 more reliable than its predecessors?

  • I know of many business that are seriously thinking in switching normal desktops running WinXP to Linux Ubuntu or similar, for a faction of the cost and far less crashes. The word defragment is then not used anymore…
    Most Office applications run very well under Openoffice (freeware) The only exeption would be a desktop needing to open and work on an Access file.

  • “Regardless of fault, it adds up to a perception that Win7 is going to give me problems from time to time — granted, less often than with XP. But Win7 has not made all the Windows stability problems go away.”

    What happened to all the glowing praise users heaped upon XP as the most perfect operating system ever created? What happened to all the people claiming that they’ve had XP up and running for literally months on end without a single crash or reboot? Windows 7 comes out and suddenly XP isn’t as perfect as everyone was making it out to be?

  • I never did understand all the hype about Win7. I’m not saying Win7 isn’t better, or isn’t good. But when Win7 came out it seemed that many people would have thought that a miracle had happened. I have had blue screen crashes with Win7 myself.

  • I totally agree with the comments about the performance monitor. It’s cosmetic at best, and usually useless for trouble shooting as it does not record system freezes that require forced shut down, among other things.

    Over all I am happy with w7 on my i7940 based desktop.
    But my 8 year old Pentium 4 system with XP (sp3) hasn’t frozen or blue screened since I re-installed xp 2 years ago!
    I still use it every day, and it’s on 24/7 for folding.

    In my case both are “reliable” but xp more so (since re-install and sp3)

  • win 7…… think it is a piece of #!@$%. it has crashed on me a couple of times, an had to send the puter to the doc. he finally gets it back up an runnin fer me again.
    try an run som programs, that is a real joke, might as well stayed with vista, this is not much of a improvement over vista.
    takes way too long to start up, things run slow, an you can not run some programs at all.
    should have went back to xp, not had a lot of problems with it..
    runnin it on my old laptop an it seems to run good, so far not any real problems with it.

  • I have been running XP,SP2 every since I got my computer about 4+ years ago. Altho I have experienced the red face of anger (RFOA), I have never gotten the BSOD.

  • I’ve been running win 7 since it’s been available, with far fewer problems than XP. Don’t misunderstand…it’s eons away from the perfect system…it’s just a little more stable than it’s predecessors…

  • Windows 7 in my view has become the KING OF BSOD issues! I never had any problems with XP like I have had with WIN 7. To me it’s just VISTA with the security doors open. It’s unstable, picky on which Motherboards it likes and hyped beyond all possible chances of retraction. I am using Ubuntu 11.04 64 at this moment as I write this. It’s doesn’t complain, it doesn’t tell me what to do nor does it think it knows more than I do when it comes to security. Microsoft is nothing more than a company who FINALLY reaching it’s MAX creativity. They would have been better off leaving XP alone and improving it’s look and adding to it. I never used VISTA and after using Windows 7 I can see what people went through with VISTA! 7 is a piece of crap!

  • Win 7 (64bit)
    Intel i-860quad core CPU
    Installation about 8 months old.
    Can’t recall BSOD, but I daily have one or more of every other type of imaginable problems. Forced shutdowns & restarts are frequent, as lock-ups occur & TasK Manager becomes unavailable.
    XP(SP3) used previously became just as bad after a couple of years during which an OS reinstall was necessary.
    I think Win7 is better but it’s along way from being even broadly acceptable & causes me to spend far too much time trying to sort problems.
    So the issue boils down to productivity & if you run a corporate enterprise to the cost of system supoprt. I’d say Win 7 is not suitable & would recommend carefully looking at an alternative, perhaps LInux as soomeone here has suggested.
    I conclude that Microsoft cannot know or genuinely understand what actually happens to the enthusiastic PC home user when the OS installation ages.
    If only there was some easy way of re-installing the OS without the huge time investment in restoring program, updates, & settings which last time took me about 1.5 weeks.
    I now find that “restore to an earlier time” often does not work & booting from CD to repair startup has little effect.
    All Microsoft’s repair & diagnostic tools are a sad joke.
    Tell me anyone of one that works even sometimes.

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