Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

A Tech’s First Impression of Windows 7

Part 1 of a series

Yesterday I downloaded the official Microsoft beta release of its new operating system — called Windows 7. (Technically, for those of you i7logo nterested in this sort of thing, it is “Build 7000”.) I opted to install the 32-bit version, as I think this will remain the “standard” and most common.
I installed a “clean install”, though I could have “upgraded” an existing Vista install (I recommend ‘clean install’ as a Rule Of Thumb).

Microsoft is calling Windows 7 a whole new OS, and are expecting it to replace replace Vista.. in the same way that Vista is replacing Windows XP. I can tell you that it is not a whole new operating system. I can also tell you that it does not give us the new file system (WinFS) that was originally promised as one of the “three pillars of Vista”.

The install itself: My “clean” install on a freshly formatted volume took just over half an hour, and involved at least two automated reboots. (It may have been three.. but I got up and walked away for a few minutes. I have performed countless Windows installs – literally – and watching one more isn’t my idea of a “good time”.)

Once I clicked “go”, I only had to answer three screens– my time/location, a computer name/user name/passwords (recommended), and did I want to set up a sharing network “HomeGroup“? That last, because it’s new and still unfamiliar, I chose “Not now. Ask me again later.”

My experience matched that of other reviewers: it was by far the fastest, smoothest, easiest Windows installation I’ve ever had. That this is a beta release makes this fact all the more remarkable.

Plus number one.

No device driver issues: I installed Windows 7 on a recent-vintage machine (it came with Vista Home Premium) and I had to install zero, zip, nada, device drivers — and this is a beta! Every device worked out of the gate, so clearly Vista device drivers work well on Windows 7.

Microsoft claims Windows 7 is the most ‘backwards compatible’ OS yet (I guess, maybe they learned from Vista’s release?) and I believe them. A beta.. and no device driver installs??? Amazing.
As a test, I connected to a rather ancient HP DeskJet 970Cse printer over my LAN. Windows 7 found the printer and installed it it with one “Yes” click.

Plus number two.

Once installed: As a Vista user, the change in Vista 7’s GUI (graphical user “interface”) was not that startling to me.. in fact, aside from the desktop and QuickLaunch icons being larger.. and a change to the System Tray/”Notification Area”.. it is Vista. The QuickLaunch now has (even more) shades of Macintosh OS X’s “Dock”.
Yes, it looks more “modern” (and makes XP look absolutely archaic), but is very, very Vista.

One nice change.. I noticed rather quickly that 7 has a Desktop slideshow feature (found because the default – plain, w/a Chinese fighting fish in the center – was quite drab after Vista’s spectacular nature images), and your Desktop can alternate images very much like your screensaver can in older versions of Windows (see Show off your photos with a screensaver slideshow).

The Start button, menus, icons, etc. are (basically) all the same. With the exception of the new networking and media sharing features, this is a zero learning curve change for Vista users, and a very modest one for XP users. If you use Windows, you can use 7, and you won’t have to take a night class or read a For Dummies book to do it.

Plus number three.

Speaking of the Start button..
* In Windows 7, Windows Mail, Windows Calendar, Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Movie Maker, and Windows Contacts are part of Windows Live Essentials.
* Windows 7 removes InkBall and adds online versions of Spades, Backgammon and Checkers.
* It comes with IE 8.
* Programs and applets – like Paint – have been updated, enhanced, and now sport the Microsoft “Ribbon”.. which was introduced in Office 2007.
ms_ribbon

Well, I have only been using Windows 7 for a few hours.. and I will be writing more in this series.. so I’ll stop here for now. So far, I have installed both Call of Duty 5 and the original Call of Duty (patched to 1.4) and played a few rounds of each.
Yup.
They’re a tad faster than on Vista.

Plus number four…

Part 2 — Transferring Your User Account To Windows 7
Part 3 – Improvements over Vista?

Today’s free download: So.. you want to download the Windows 7 beta too? Click here.

Today’s free link: Mark Russinovich: Inside Windows 7 How has Windows evolved, as a general purpose operating system and at the lowest levels, in Windows 7? Who better to talk to than Technical Fellow and Windows Kernel guru Mark Russinovich? Here, Mark enlightens us on the new kernel constructs in Windows 7.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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January 11, 2009 - Posted by | advice, computers, News, PC, software, System Tray, Taskbar, tech, Vista, Windows, Windows 7, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Comments »

  1. Damnit! I downloaded both versions of the beta (and the keys for each) but I have just recently completed an OS reinstall and I’m not inclined to do another one so soon.

    Your report is making me seriously consider doing it. I guess I could always opt for the upgrade option but that would mean I’m stuck in the 32bit world again.

    I had considered loading 64btit Vista but talked myself out of it.

    If/when I do finally upgrade to Windows 7 it will most likely be to the 64 bit version.

    Like

    Comment by gadzooks64 | January 11, 2009 | Reply

    • Gadzooks64–
      Aw.. go ahead. It is absolutely painless. The most remarkably easy install I’ve ever experienced. Make a little space on your HD > format a new partition > put in the install DVD > click “Advanced install (clean)” > sit back and relax.
      You will now have a “dual boot” machine.

      And yes, go with the 64-bit version.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | January 11, 2009 | Reply

  2. TechPaul,

    Good review on this… You confirmed what I had suspected and had been seeing (and reading); Windows 7 is a finished version of Vista (with some new decor). I’m actually pretty excited about it; course I get excited about the new things. I hope you keep giving us some good insight on Windows 7…

    Wonder what Microsoft’s “bottom line” spec requirements are for this?

    Rick

    Like

    Comment by whatsonmypc | January 11, 2009 | Reply

    • Rick–
      From the Microsoft download page…
      Minimum recommended specs call for:
      * 1 GHz 32-bit or 64-bit processor
      * 1 GB of system memory
      * 16 GB of available disk space
      * Support for DirectX 9 graphics with 128 MB memory (to enable the Aero theme)

      As you can see, with the exception of the hard-drive space, (my install took up 12.5 GB’s) the req’s are modest. I would be very reluctant to install Windows 7 on a machine with these specs, though, and would say that if you don’t have (at least) double these numbers.. think about a new machine.
      I suspect that Windows 7 will be the OS that really ushers in 64-bit computing to the consumer (mainstream), and systems with 8 GB’s of RAM become common.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | January 11, 2009 | Reply

  3. […] to visit the sites below.  Each of these links give you a different perspective on Windows 7.  Tech-for Everyone, gives you the view through the eyes of a Computer Tech.  Windows 7 Team Blog gives you the view […]

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    Pingback by Is “Windows 7″ Vista SP2? « What’s On My PC | January 12, 2009 | Reply

  4. […] for Part 1 of this series, A Tech’s First Impression of Windows 7 Part 1 of a series Link to Part 2, A Tech’s First Impression of Windows 7 Part 2 — Transferring Your User Account […]

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    Pingback by A Tech’s First Impression of Windows 7 - Part 3 - Improvements over Vista? « Bill Mullins’ Weblog - Tech Thoughts | January 19, 2009 | Reply

  5. […] a while now, and have written several installments of  “A Tech’s Impressions” series, (see, A Tech’s First Impression of Windows — Part 1 of a series) with more on the way. This article is not one of them – it’s more a (my) look at psychology than […]

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    Pingback by Windows XP, Vista, and 7 – The Psychology of it ALL… « What’s On My PC | January 23, 2009 | Reply


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