Windows 7 has been broadly backed by PC Advisor readers, with nearly 15 percent having already installed the public beta, and 8 percent planning to upgrade as soon as the OS is released, according to our recent survey.

That means a quarter of PC Advisor readers are already using Windows 7, or plan to use it at the earliest opportunity. A further 13 percent said they intended to purchase a Windows 7 desktop PC or laptop the next time they buy a computer.

These are promising statistics for Microsoft as the company attempts to repair Windows' tarnished reputation. The software giant's current desktop OS - Windows Vista - has been heavily criticised since its launch two years ago. Microsoft has failed to shake off Vista's reputation as a bloated and slow OS, with many users regarding it as a downgrade from its predecessor - Windows XP.

The results of our poll, which received over 2,500 votes, show that Vista is still considered the poor cousin of the 8-year-old Windows XP. Just 22 percent said Windows Vista would be their next operating system, while 37 percent pledged to stick with XP 'for as long as possible'.

Windows 7 survey

Windows 7 user reviews

The survey results are likely to have been influenced by Windows 7's positive early reviews, both by technology publications and end users.

While, as expected, some users have experienced teething problems with the beta, the general consensus among contributors to our Windows 7 forum is that the OS is a step forward. A number of users have reported faster boot times, and the tweaked interface has been generally well received.

"If people take the time to have a look about it will be a pleasant experience," said PC Advisor forum member 'anskyber'.

'Iambeavis' agreed: "You can add me to the list of admirers. Much as I liked XP, I like Windows 7 even more. I'm a convert - no doubt about it."

windows 7 background

However, a number of users said Windows 7 needed to be a more significant upgrade to force them to switch from the popular Windows XP.

"I think Microsoft's problem is still going to be: ‘Why should I downgrade from XP?'," said 'hawthorn123'.

Windows 7's lack of a killer feature was pointed out by other users too.

"I won't be upgrading from XP Pro, there isn't anything in here I can't already do," said 'Rob_08'. "If there was a 'must have' feel to it, or a 'I gotta have that' about it, I would. But there isn't."

In terms of compatibility with third-party applications, Windows 7 seems to perform well. The major stumbling block appears to be antivirus software - a number of apps aren't working nicely with the beta, but Microsoft recommends tools from Symantec, AVG and Kaspersky on its official blog.

Kaspersky Antivirus 8.0 for Windows 7

Kaspersky Antivirus 8.0 for Windows 7

Windows 7 public beta extended

The free public Windows 7 beta will now be available until February 10, after Microsoft cancelled plans to remove it from the Windows 7 download site at the weekend.

You now have until February 10 to start the download, but downloads have until February 12 to be completed, according to a Microsoft blog post. No one will be able to begin downloading the Windows 7 beta after February 10.

Microsoft made the first beta of Windows 7 available to the general public on January 10, a day later than planned because interest in the beta crashed its website. 

For more, see our Windows 7 review and discuss the public beta in our Windows 7 forum.