So it has been a little over a week since I decided that I was going to really give Windows 7 a workout during its Beta phase. Instead of using a virtual machine that I would have to really be thinking about using, I decided that i would install it on my day to day laptop that I do most of my consulting and article writing on. This would give me a much better idea of what the true Windows 7 experience is.
Now I truly do not recommend this for everyone, I have all my data backed up with Windows Home Server (WHS) and I am very comfortable doing restores of my data so at worst I would lose a few hours if things went south. Also it would give me an idea of how older equipment would perform since I use a Dell Inspiron E1705 laptop that is about 3 years old. It even boasts the infamous “Windows Vista Capable” sticker since it came with Windows XP loaded originally. The specs are ok but nothing too spectacular:
- 1.6Ghz Core Duo
- 2GB Ram
- 160GB ( This was installed for Windows 7 because I briefly flirted with the idea of a dual boot system but decided against it, the original was 60GB)
This system ran Windows Vista and though it had issues with doing certain things like recording screen casts, I never had much of a complaint in using it.
Installing Windows 7
I was going to do a in place upgrade from Windows Vista but I wanted to see how the install of various applications went so I decided to do a scratch install. Again all my data is backed up on my WHS so again all I was losing was time. Plus in doing this I would clean out some of my data because I would only restore files I truly needed instead of what I might “need” at some point in the future. I documented the Windows 7 installation process on Windows Server Training for those that want to see it. One thing that amazed me that was not the case with Vista was that all my device drivers were loaded and functional after installation with no intervention on my part. I was able to put my driver DVD away without use and a very happy sense of having it “just work”.
Next was to go back and install some of my favorite applications. The first round included:
- Office 2007
- Firefox 3
- Windows Home Server Connector
- Google Toolbar & Adobe Acrobat Reader (Had a slight issue with Google Pack which I talked about in the article Installing Google Pack on Windows 7)
- SnagIt 8
- Windows Live Tools (Live Writer and Live Photo are the ones I use the most)
Not too long of a list, but I am a simple kind of guy 🙂 Besides the Google Pack issue I had no problems at all with those applications. I then grabbed the files I knew I would need from my Windows Home Server backup and I was back in business.
Working with Windows 7 Beta
In the last week I have had a normal workload of consulting work and I have had very few problems. I had one blue screen of death coming out of standby but since then nothing else. Adobe Acrobat has a few weird crashes but I am holding that to the IE 8 beta then Windows 7.
I have found that I LOVE the new taskbar. Having the individual icons for each program only show once, and then when you click it seeing then real number of windows is a subtle but remarkable change. I find that it is much cleaner interface for me since I tend to keep a lot of windows open, especially while doing research.
Performance wise has been a real winner with me also, while my laptop worked under Vista it did have some issues, but things seem a bit zippier under Windows 7 and the actual memory footprint is much lower than Vista was on a clean install.
I do consulting work so I am using Remote Desktop quite a bit, and I never had any issues or problems with any number of connections. It might have felt a bit faster then I had been doing in the past, especially when connected to Windows 2008 servers, but I don’t have any hard numbers for that beyond perception.
Windows 7 “Just works”
I know, I want to slap myself just by saying it but as a beta this really just works. It seems like a much more finished product almost along the lines of a RC. I am hoping there will be a RC by the time the beta expires because I don’t really want to go back to a Vista client. Not that I ever found anything wrong with Vista because I didn’t really have the problems that others had, but the taskbar alone is enough to sell me on the upgrade.
Leo Laporte said in a Windows Weekly that it feels as solid as Windows 2000 did, and it makes sense that I would love Windows 7 because Windows 2000 was the last OS I truly enjoyed. I really disliked Windows XP because it was just too babyish for me and I ran Windows 2000 until the last possible moment I could get away with it.
Final Windows 7 Thoughts
I think Microsoft is on the right track with Windows 7 in both technology and perception in the market. They let a lot of things go thinking that the tech industry would see things and not spin them negatively, but negative really sells… I am sure I would get a ton more links if I had a negative review of Windows 7, but I can only relate what my experience has been.
I look forward to the next versions of Windows 7 that lead up to the RTM which as of now I would purchase. Hopefully Microsoft keeps the thought process in the current direction with Windows 7 and doesn’t do anything to sour what is already an excellent OS.