Saturday 4 April 2009

Windows 7 Beta Review

Windows 7 Beta Review

Microsoft will not officially announce a date for the release of Windows 7, but they will officially say that new OS's typically come out 2 years after the release to market (RTM) of the previous version. If that is the case, by January next year Windows 7 should be RTM. However I have heard unofficially from Microsoft reps that we will likely see it on machines before Christmas. This article will focus on some of the good and some of the bad in Windows 7 based on research and on using Windows 7 as both a virtual machine and as a native operating system.

Working fulltime in IT I am always striving to stay up to date on new technology. As such, as soon as I had the opportunity to download Windows 7 from the MSDN (Microsoft Developer's Network) site I jumped at the opportunity. I had heard and read so many great things about it. Yet first I need to be honest. I like Vista. I know I am in a minority there, but I have been using it at home for over 2 years without a single issue. My uptime when Service Pack 1 came out was 78 days. I have never had a crash. The only issues I have ever encountered on Vista are helping friends who have put it on older machines whose hardware is not designed to support it. So initially I looked at Windows 7 as just a cosmetic change to Vista to try to remarket it, and help Microsoft recover from some of the bad press around it.

First it looks Like there will be fewer versions of Windows 7 to choose from. Here in North America we will have access to 4 of the 5 versions: Starter, Home Premium, Pro, Enterprise and Ultimate. Starter is limited to OEM for netbooks and developing countries, as opposed to 7 versions of Vista. Also, Microsoft has a huge Mojave Experiment where they test people with a 'new' operating system compared to Vista and they love it and then are told it is Vista. But I was greatly mistaken about the 'just a cosmetic change'. Windows 7 is based upon the same core engine and design as Vista but it has been cleaned up not just cosmetically, but performance-wise also. MS has also made some changes to its original planned upgrade path. Originally you would have to reinstall from Vista to Beta, to RC to RTM version. Now you can do upgrade installs along the one. One of the new features in Windows 7 is that if you do an upgrade install and then run disk cleanup, it will prompt you to remove the old Windows directory from the hard drive thus freeing up space. Ms officially states that applications that have problems on Vista will have problems on Windows 7; from my experience and those of some testers I know, that is not the case. I know someone who put Windows 7 on an old P4 machine with a 1.8gb Processor with 512mb of ram. It runs faster than XP ever ran on that machine. People who had hardware issues with Vista have them resolved in Windows 7; between Vista and XP drivers, everything now works.

Also originally MS was saying that you could only upgrade to Windows 7 from Vista, but new sources reveal that you will be able to buy an upgrade from XP but you will have to do a fresh install, not an upgrade install.

One of the coolest features for end-users is location printing. If you're a mobile user with a laptop - at work, school, home, the parents - you can assign a default printer based on where you are. Also you can have rotating desktop pictures, but you can use an RSS feed, like flicker or other web service and not have to have the pictures on each machine you use. A lot of thought has gone into the planning and implementation of the changes in this OS.

Overall from all I have seen, read and heard this will be a great product. It is the first MS operating system to have lower hardware requirements than the previous. That means if you're already running Vista your machine will run faster with Windows 7. On a side note, with all the backlash against Vista, and Microsoft as a result of it, a great product has gone almost unnoticed, Office 2007. Office 2007 is an amazing product, once you get comfortable with the ribbon over the drop-down menus. It is very intuitive and user friendly. Yet most people hardly know about it. From all the early indicators in the Tech community, Windows 7 will be a huge hit; some companies are already planning on the migration and preparing to push for it. And they all indicate it will run better than Vista and on some machines - even better than XP.

(First published in Imprint 2009-04-03. Written in part as follow up to this article.)

Articles in this Series:

Mac VS PC an It Guys Perspective
Inner Geek - Updated June 2011
Inner Geek - Updated December 2011


Anonymous said...

thanks for the common sense information. i am looking to replace my desktop and was searching for windows 7 information, yours was the best i found after about 20 sites.
if my existing computer makes it through the summer i am going to wait for windows 7 in the later part of the year. thanks again.

John said...

I have the option of upgrading my version of Vista to Windows 7. I have to say I am a big fan of XP and the jump to Vista was confusing. I' still nototally up to speed with Vista... And now I have Windows 7 to contend with. Not sure what to do....! Thanks for the informative article. John, elottery syndicate, UK.