I've been using Windows 7 now for the past few weeks, and I finally feel like I can give it a fair assessment. According to Google Analytics, 82% of you reading this are using a Windows machine to do so (14% are using a Mac), and I'm guessing most of you are still back in Windows XP. And that's fine. Windows XP has been around for quite sometime--since 2001, in fact. It's been tried and tested, and you're likely really familiar with it by now. It's like an old friend, almost.
But you know what? It's ten years old now. When XP was brand new, America Online was at its peak. Mark Zuckerberg couldn't even vote. In tech terms, your old friend is a dinosaur. But it's a dinosaur that didn't really have many other options until recently. Yes, you could switch to Linux, but that's a big leap for many people. There was Windows Vista, but we'd all heard how awful that was (even if the reality wasn't nearly as bad as you'd heard). But there aren't really any excuses now. XP is nice, but if you're in the market for a new computer, it's time to take the plunge and upgrade to Windows 7.
There's really nothing to be afraid of. The new operating system is pretty straightforward. They've moved some features around, but nothing that's too hard to find. It responds quickly, and I don't have much in the way of complaints. If you're using an older machine (more than a few years old), I'd wait to upgrade until you get a new one. XP works just fine, and with upgrading you're going to need to find new drivers, and some of your older components might not work. I've upgraded some library staff computers, and we've had difficulty with printers especially. Since upgrading isn't free, it's easiest just to wait until you need a new computer.
If you do decide to upgrade, might I recommend AGAINST doing a simple "upgrade" to Windows 7. Do a clean install of the operating system--meaning back up all your information, then wipe the computer clean and start from scratch. Less to go wrong that way. You should be backing up anyway, and this is an excellent time to do so. Plus, with a clean install, you'll notice your computer running more quickly and smoothly--a definite plus.
Anyway. Windows 7 has been much easier to use than I thought it would be, and overall I'd say I like it more than XP. Definitely a step in the right direction. If you have any specific questions, fire away!