That said, Windows 7 is a vast improvement over Vista, though that's practically damning it with faint praise.
Recently, Microsoft has been broadcasting a series of advertisements for Windows 7 which have made me cringe. These ads continue the portrayal of Windows as ordinary users (as opposed to the "snooty/elitist" Mac users) (which I'm fine with), but then the closing line is, "...and Windows 7 was my idea."
How could Microsoft be saying this with a straight face?
Windows 7, like all previous versions of Windows and like almost all other Microsoft software, is closed-source (proprietary). This means that a bunch of developers create the software basically behind closed doors; even after releasing the software to the public, users cannot get access to the underlying code.
One can't even properly customize their Windows 7 system; one deals with what one gets.
I guess one could say Windows 7 was "their" idea if that means that Microsoft actually listened to customers about what was wrong with Vista in order to make 7 better, which is true and good.
By contrast, *nix's its derivatives, BSD and GNU/Linux, are free and open-source pieces of software. This means that anyone can view, modify, or redistribute the underlying code for the software, and if the user thinks that their change is a major one which can benefit the entire software userbase, they can send the suggestion to the original/current main developers of the project, and this will most likely be incorporated either as a bugfix or as part of a future release. The process is a very collaborative one, and the end result is often of higher quality than those of closed-door operations.
Really, Linux was my idea.