For Windows 7 to outshine the disaster that is Vista, it will have to be both a technical panacea and a marketing success. Microsoft has been splurging on TV ads, haplessly enlisting "regular" people to get you to throw parties in honor of its software, and using for its spokesperson an 8-year-old girl.
Apple can't help the fact that Windows 7 is better than Vista, but I'm betting they'll gin up a diversionary product launch to steal the spotlight. What will it be?
According to Apple's predictable product life cycles, we're in for a barrage this fall. All of Apple's desktops are growing exceedingly long in the tooth, and rumors of Core i7 and Blu-ray equipped iMacs are already on the rise. Accoring to MacRumors' buyer's guide, the Mac Mini, iMac, and Mac Pro have all gone without updates for more than 200 days; the average period before revision is historically about 240 days. We're closing in on update time.
Other opportunities abound. Intel has recently announced low-power, 45nm mobile quad-core i7 processors, which might make it into another high-end Apple device. I won't utter the word "tablet" here, but plenty have.
Of course, Windows 7 will still get a grand reception from beleaguered Vista owners and pent-up demand from businesses. But when it comes to headlines, hardware rules—and Apple may end up with the upper hand come October 22.