I’m pleasantly surprised.
I downloaded the DVD ISO for the Windows 7 beta release. For some reason, I was really excited that Microsoft was putting out Windows 7 for beta and letting the community take it for a spin. I have enjoyed playing around with other OS releases such as Fedora and Ubuntu.
I have a Toshiba laptop that’s a year old. It’s got an AMD Athlon X2 CPU and came with Vista on it. When I first got it, I put Fedora on it right away. But I did a dual boot so if I ever needed Vista, it was there. I played around with Vista and even though I never bashed it like others did, I liked it okay. Coming from WinXP to Vista, it was sometimes frustrating to find the apps I was looking for or to change the settings. For the most part, I used Linux on this laptop probably 95% of the time. So I thought this would be perfect to try out Windows 7.
Installation went really smooth and much faster than XP or my experience restoring Vista from the DVD’s that came with my laptop. Once it was completed, I noticed that I couldn’t set my screen resolution beyond 1024 x 600 and that I didn’t have any WiFi connectivity. Clearly I was in need of some drivers, so I plugged in an ethernet cable, got connected on my LAN and started up Windows Update. It found nine updated, all of which were all my device drivers.
While that was downloading, I downloaded the latest drivers from ATI for my video card. I picked my model and downloaded the Vista drivers.
Windows was also complaining about the fact I didn’t have any anti-virus installed, so I installed my favorite one, Avast!.
When everything finished installing, it of course wanted to reboot. Once it did, everything just worked. I had Wifi and I was able to get my screen resolution to 1280 x 800. I re-ran Windows Update and it reported that I was all up to date.
Now, I was ready to get down to business. So I installed my apps I typically install;
- Firefox with Foxmarks
After syncing my bookmarks, I had all my stuff that I feel is important. I tried out IE8 and honestly, I couldn’t tell much of a difference between it and IE7. I will say that my company’s Exchange 2007 web portal wouldn’t work with IE8.
I also made the icons tiny on the taskbar. I felt the default taskbar took too much real estate. I also picked a different background.
Joining my wireless networks was a breeze. I was surprise how easy Microsoft made it. You can pretty much click on the list of wireless networks and click on one to join.
One thing that threw me for a loop was plugging in my headphones. Both the laptop speakers and the headphones were active. I had to right click on the speaker in the systray and open up “Playback Devices.” Both my headphones and the speakers were there. I had to “Deactivate” the laptop speakers.
Windows 7 tried to make you feel good about your headphones, regardless how crappy they may be by calling them a “High Definition Audio Device.”
Initial Final Thoughts
I like it. I told someone that it was like they took the good stuff out of Vista and the good stuff out of XP and mushed them together. It is much more inituitve than Vista and I would feel much better about upgrading from XP to Windows 7 than I ever did with Vista.
As I installed items and ran Windows Update, I got the initial “Do you want to run this…” pop up, but no where near as in frequency as I did in Vista.
I also really like some of the new apps you get. I noticed it comes with Powershell, (which I’ve heard great things about, but never played with), and some neat process and memory management tools.
It may be an illusion but it seems that my laptop runs things faster with Windows 7 than with Vista. I have no real benchmarks, but it sure seems that way. I did notice that my memory consumption is very low in comparision with my XP machine.
I like how Windows 7 found all my needed drivers via Windows update. I was worried I would have to load drivers off the OEM DVD that came with my laptop.
My battery is lasting a little longer, too. It could be that the cooling fan isn’t coming on at all, (under Vista, hot air was blasting out, but I haven’t seen it like that yet).
I haven’t really done much but email, surfing, listening to music, but I must say that I think this is really promising. I applaud Microsoft for releasing this out to the public for feedback and testing.
I’ll continue to do things with it and post more info.