I have played with the Windows 7 Beta Build over the last few weeks and I am suitably impressed by the performance and interface changes shown in the latest build. Microsoft is definitely spending time getting a system that is not only user-friendly, but also fast. I never disliked Vista, in fact I still use it every day, but Windows 7 has some huge improvements.
Installation and Upgrade
The installation process for is the same as for Vista in most aspects. I installed the 32-bit and 64-bit versions into Virtual Box virtual machines and the installations completed in about 20 minutes for each machine. The performance inside the virtual environment is also a huge improvement over Vista. The interface for the installation has not changed notably, although the new splash logo is a nice change from the old scrolling bar we have had since Windows 95.
I also decided to upgrade my desktop machine from Vista 64-bit to Windows 7 64-bit. I was a bit disappointed at the upgrade process which took almost 3 hours to complete, and I am not entirely sure what the cause was. My desktop machine is not a beast, running a Dual Core 1.6 with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB HDD. I am also using an ATI Radeon 2400 graphics card with 256MB of RAM. Once the upgrade completed I could however detect a huge improvement in start-up times, and often reboot twice because I am not sure if the machine actually did reboot or if I was only thinking about doing it.
The new user interface is also extremely nice. I have used Leopard on a MacBook for the last year or so and convinced the user interface team is sitting with Apple‘s next to their desks. The taskbar docking is the same principle as with the Leopard dock and works extremely well, and the new screen shortcut’s for maximizing windows and showing the desktop is also awesome tools, similar to Expose. There is now even a feature to randomly change the background image on a specific interval, something I love from the Mac. I also found the user interface quite responsive, and navigating open windows is really simple. Also the ability to quickly find “missing” windows through the task-bar lists is a great new feature. I really think Microsoft is heading in the right direction with the user experience.
I am overall very excited about Windows 7. The only two problems I have had with running it so far is that Rose Online does not run, due to incompatibility with the Game Guard client they use to manage server connections, and Windows 7 not recognising my DVD drive, which was fairly quick to fix once driver signing got turned off and some obsolete drivers removed from the registry.