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Windows 7: A First Look

Friday, January 09, 2009 in Technical Articles (Views: 3661)
Some refer to Windows 7 as "Vista done right". I have to argue a little bit with them, since I personally feel there is a misconception with Vista not being done right in the first place. Some people didn't like Vista out of the box, which is understandable. This was nothing more than Microsoft's way to secure things out of the box. Personally, a setup option for "How annoying should this be" would have solved a lot of problems. I really had no technical issues with Vista, except an old piece of hardware not working, which really isn't Microsoft's fault. You can't make third parties like HP continue to innovate drivers, since then they lose money on hardware sales.

I installed Windows 7 twice - once as an upgrade, and once as a new install. Out of the gate, the new install did pretty well. The new install was pretty much like Vista's, little change. I did notice a much faster boot and response time. Could it be Microsoft learned that not all services are necessary to start on boot?

It does get better - the interface is much cleaner, and more responsive. I did notice that the quick launch bar was missing, but not quite. The quick launch bar has been molded into the taskbar. Any program you frequently use can be "pinned" there for quick access.

As for the upgrade? It took a while, but it was nearly flawless. This was kind of a shock for me, especially considering I was expecting my Antivirus software to quit working. I expected some drivers, especially my ATI graphics frontend or even some of the drivers to not work. Everything, including my bluetooth mouse, was working. The only thing I found not to work right from the start was the Zune software, but of all things, it lost the index for my media collection. When I started the software, it had just scanned my folders, and rebuilt the media index.

Windows 7 was released as Beta 1 today for some MSDN and Technet subscribers, I believe. For a beta, it is very stable, I have to admit. This is the first pre-release OS I have trusted enough to run on my primary personal machine. I've been using it a little while prior to this in testing, and have yet to have really any significant trouble.

One thing people have asked is about Internet Explorer 8. IE8 is going to be packaged with Windows 7. IE8 is actually for once, quite an upgrade. IE8 does add several new features, which are quite an improvement. First, IE8 is extremely fast compared to older versions. Comparing it to other browsers like Firefox and Safari, to me is just as fast or faster. Also, there is a safe browsing feature called InPrivate, which allows you to browse the web without leaving a trace of browsing on your machine. Some have referred to this as "porno mode", but it is intended for use on places like banking sites, so that things like passwords and webpages that contains sensitive info from being cached.

I want to stay on IE8 for a minute. There is a lot to this upgrade, and of the new good features, accelerators. Accelerators are things that help you with text. You can highlight an address, and map it, or select a word, and have a menu to get a definition of it. Now, some browsers like Chrome already have this, but Crashguard is another great feature - which means every tab works individually and isolated of each other. So, if one tab fails, only the one tab is affected and it can be closed by itself. This is a welcome change, especially when I have 8 or 9 technet tabs open, and one freaks out. I would previously lose them all.

Needless to say, as a Vista user, when IE8 is released, I would download it and install it. It's a great upgrade, and you XP users aren't left out on this one - it will be available to you too.

All in all, between the performance improvements, the much more intuitive user interface (it looks really nice too), and the new features, this is one upgrade worth having. Remember, it is a beta at this point - so it is a "use it at your own risk" OS. Although I was not unhappy with Vista, Windows 7 will bury the perception of Vista in our minds (and hopefully will become an afterthought like Windows Me was).


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