Windows 7 Review

Quick Summary:

  • I obtained the Windows 7 beta (build 7000)
  • I installed it on my desktop
  • I used it for one week, for everything from web browsing to programming and development work
  • It is awesome

Long Review:

Where to begin…I’m going to try and keep this from sounding fanboy-ish.  People who know me know I am no proponent of Microsoft goods anyways, I’m just really impressed with this OS.

Disclaimer: I hate vista, I haven’t used it much so if I’m raving about a feature that was already in vista, forgive me.  I hate it for a multitude of reasons, but we won’t discuss those here.

My desktop specs are as follows:

  • AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 6000+ 3.01 GHz
  • Started out at 2 gigs of DDR2 800 ram, ended up with 6 gigs.
  • Geforce 8600GTS video – Two 22″ widescreen monitors
  • 250gb hdd

I’m writing this review in the format of a rough outline, just highlighting features I’m really impressed with, so here goes.

Windows 7 Installation

Speed – Holy crap, this thing formatted my drive and windows was installed in probably 20 minutes.  After installation I had to install NO DRIVERS (not even video), it already had them all or found them all without asking me anything.

Ease – The interface for formatting/installing is beautiful and simple.  Very minimalistic and easy to use, it’s a snap to set up.

It took me less than 1 hour to format, install windows, and reinstall all of my necessary software.  Including Firefox, MS Office, Pidgin, Winamp, Code Editors and FTP clients, and many more.

Windows 7 Speed

Prior to installing Win7 on my desktop at home, I installed it on a spare nearby.  An old Dell with a 1.8ghz intel cpu and 512mb of ram.  Even with these limited specs Win7 ran incredibly smooth without a single performance hitch anywhere.

It was no different on my desktop, perfectly smooth everywhere.

It feels so lightweight and fast, the complete opposite of Vista’s clunky feel.  Hopefully this doesn’t change too much between now and the retail release build.

Heres a quick performance comparison of Win7 vs Vista vs XP: http://blogs.zdnet.com/hardware/?p=3236&page=2

Windows 7 Taskbar

I’m not a huge fan of the new icon layout, but with a minor tweak to the taskbar preferences it is perfect.  Just enable the “Use small icons” option and set the “Taskbar Buttons” option to “Combine when taskbar is full” instead of “always combine”.  this will not only make the taskbar vertically smaller but will display windows like WinXP/Vista did.

Apps that are “pinned” to the taskbar are very cool, as the “pinned” icon expands to create the window when you open them.

The new system tray is excellent at conserving space, extra system tray icons are hidden and appear in a pop up when you click the expand arrow.  This is easily configurable, and easy to revert to xp/vista style if you prefer.

Maximized apps overlap the taskbar now, that’s going to take some getting used to.

Windows 7 Search

The Search/Run bar on the start menu now fills the entire start menu with search results, instead of just the left side, making it much easier to read.

The search function in windows explorer is amazing, and now searches as you type.  No more stupid animated figure you have to wait on or disable.  No more seraching, then having to click something to search again.  Just type.

Windows 7 Codecs

Man was I surprised when I went to download VLC media player.  While it was downloading I fired up a video just to see what it would look like and to my amazement it looked and sounded perfect.  Windows 7 comes with codecs already installed, it appears to be the DivX codec pack.

Windows 7 Style

This OS, thanks to the Aero interface, is beautiful.  I’ll have some screen shots up soon.  Everything is amazingly simple to change or modify, and the default themes even support easy customization.

Windows 7 Functionality

The rightmost 10 pixels or so of the taskbar form a small raised button that when clicked, toggles the show desktop function of windows.  This is coming in VERY handy.  It will also allow you to “preview” the desktop if you hover over it with your mouse.  The “preview” function turns every window you have open completely transparent except for that window’s outline.

A type of “locator” feature i installed in the taskbar.  If you mouse over a window on the taskbar, and then mouse over the live preview generated by that, it will turn every window open to transparent, except for the one you are hovering over.

The start menu has some new additions as well, like programs have an expandable menu on hover, that displays recently opened documents with the program.

Windows 7 Programs

It comes with a piece of software called the “Snipping tools” making the process of taking a screen shot much, much easier.  I’ve been told this is similar if not nearly identical to a piece of software that comes with Mac OS.

Paint’s interface got a face lift, and now resembles the interface used by Microsoft Office.

Calculator got a neat little interface tweak.

Resource Monitor – Win7 has an incredible resource monitor for everything from cpu/ram/disk/network monitoring down to the latency of specific processes.

Windows 7 Security and UAC

I disabled UAC as soon as I booted, but overall Win 7 security seems to be much less obtrusive and annoying.  It’s still ridiculous that it asks you if you want to execute something you’d obviously tried to run.

Windows 7 Stability

The OS has an uptime of over a week thus far, it appears to be a very stable beta build.

I’ve only had a couple of programs that would not run correctly.  This issue should be resolved when Win7 is more mainstream and people start writing programs with Win7 support/driver support.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it seems that the primary goal of the Windows 7 development team was to take a crack at the “It just works” mantra that Mac users always seem to brag about, and in my opinion they’ve succeeded.  I can’t wait for a retail build, as this OS is one that will be worth the money.

I’m predicting that Windows 7 marketshare is going to vastly overshadow Vista, and hopefully replace it completely.  Windows 7 is what Vista should’ve been.