With all the details on Windows purchase, upgrades, and pricing now established, it should come as no great surprise that Microsoft has also finished up its retail packaging for the boxed versions of the new OS. For a sneak peek, you can check out the “...New Windows 7 Packaging” entry on the Microsoft Windows 7 Blog.
To me, it looks like MS retained a similar box shape as compared to the Vista design, with a rounded upper right corner, though it looks like the Windows7 box may be a bit bigger than the hard plastic Vista version. The best change, however, is that they abandoned the clumsy hinged interior chamber (you had to pull on a tab at the upper left corner of the Vista package to expose the contents of a “box within a box” where the CDs and documentation was inserted with the product key label affixed to the back of the interior chamber). The Windows 7 retail box is a simple translucent plastic clamshell that opens and closes like a book.
Microsoft also indicates that they made the plastic case lighter and completely recylable. I’m sure that’s as much a consequence of switcher to a simpler box design that is not only easier to open and close but also requires substantially less raw materials to fabricate. Gone, too, is the 42-page Quick Start Guide included with Vista retail versions. All you find is a very short Getting Started Guide, a DVD, and the case itself. The product key label is on the inside front cover of the box, which makes it easy to find and see.
In retrospect and by comparison I see many of the seeds of Vista’s problems in the box itself: a snazzy but overly complex and not terribly user friendly design presaged much of what I’ve learned to expect from Vista since then, software-wise. Let’s hope that by this logic the simple spare design of the Windows 7 box also speaks to the design and behavior of the OS itself. In my last three months of intensive testing and writing for the upcoming Pearson book Windows 7 in Depth, I have to say that this appears to be the case! But of course, only time will tell…