Microsoft Windows 7: First Impressions

Win7_logo.jpgThat’s right! Microsoft has a replacement for its much maligned Windows Vista. The retail version of Windows 7, as it is presently called, is not yet available. But indications are that it will be officially released in the October 2009 time frame.

In preparation for its release, Microsoft has been making “Beta” (unfinished) versions available. In January, Beta version 7000 was made available on the internet for anyone to download and use. In May version 7100 Release Candidate 1 (i.e., nearly complete) was made available, incorporating a number of changes and fixes from the 7000 release. Why was Microsoft doing this? At least two reasons come to mind: (1) Involve as many people as possible in testing the new OS and reporting back likes/dislikes and problems (so called “bugs”). (2) To build as much positive buzz and interest as possible in the coming final version.

I downloaded and installed version 7000 in January and installed it on both a laptop and desktop. When version 7100 was released I also installed it on both machines – doing an upgrade on the laptop while doing a fresh install on the desktop. I have also now installed it on a second laptop for regular use. Below are my opinions and observations about Microsoft Windows 7.

LIKES:

  • Seems to be quicker both to install and to use than Vista.
  • Some of the “weird” changes in the way users access things in Vista have been removed or changed for greater ease of use.
  • I think many users will think Windows 7 is closer to Windows XP than Vista in look and feel.
  • If a driver or program is compatible with Vista it seems nearly certain to work with Windows 7 as well.
  • Requires less RAM memory and (perhaps) less hard drive space to install and run.

DISLIKES / PROBLEMS

  • On my desktop, Windows 7 would freeze when trying to awake from sleep after the machine ran overnight and went into energy saving mode. This required powering off and then back on the computer each time it happened.  I temporarily have “fixed” this by disabling Standby Mode in my Power settings in the Control Panel.
  • Occasionally the computer will take a “time out” as it attempts to open a new window – the windows will open partially but icons for the items inside will never appear. Inevitably, it is time to reboot the system. Whether this is a bug to be fixed in the final version, a memory allocation problem, or a video driver problem, I don’t know.

Going to Microsoft’s main website and clicking on the Windows tab will show that they are currently offering pre-order pricing specials at about 50% off the retail price when released in October. We can order an XP or Vista to Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade for $49.99, a good deal! I don’t recall that Microsoft has offered such “deals” when preparing to release Windows 2000, XP or Vista.

To read more about what others think about Windows 7, I recommend a series of articles appearing on PC Magazine’s website (click here) telling how to install the current, free Release Candidate 1 version, the new features in Windows 7, and why Vista and XP users would want to upgrade.

My preliminary verdict: I like it! I prefer the RC1 over Vista and it is already a very stable and up to date operating system, subject to the couple problems I mentioned above. If you want to try Windows 7, now is the time to do it FREE by downloading the Release Candidate version and installing it. Microsoft has announced that the RC1 (7100) version will continue to work until March 1, 2010, giving you plenty of time to use it before having to buy a copy of the final version.

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