Windows 7 RC


PC Installed on: Windows Media Center PC n1270m (HP): Pentium 4 3.0 GHz with 2 GB RAM.

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I downloaded the Windows 7 RC from MSDN today and I am in the process of installing it to my home computer. So far I am much more impressed with the install than I was with the betas. They have obviously added some compatibility for the machinery I have to the mix, as I had to install XP and then upgrade with previous builds. With this build, I put in the disk, toasted the hard drive, and it is installed without issue. It took about 20 minutes, which is a great improvement over both the Vista install and previous builds of Windows 7.

Immediately on install, it found my TV tuner card, which is quite impressive. In previous builds, I had to go searching for the driver, which was a royal pain in the rear. Put in a key and I am up and running in less than 1/2 hour. That is nice. The rest of this entry are random thoughts, as I go through the install.

Media Center

The Media Center set up took about 4 minutes to set up. The setup of the local directory took a few more minutes, but I am overall impressed compared to the betas. And it realized I cannot get above channel 99 with this tuner, so I chopped off the channels I can’t get. Much smarter than earlier versions of Media Center, including the beta versions of Windows 7 Ultimate.

Then, I hit my first snag. The sound is not working in Windows Media Center. Going out into Windows proper, I had no problems whatsoever with tests, but then I noticed the speakers were not a “default” device. Turning that on, the sound came through fine. This sounds much better than both Vista and the betas. Another positive step. It also reacts much faster when expanding or contracting.

I had a lot of video skipping during the beta, but it is running smooth in the RC. The only skip I have seen thus far was when the background changed (one of the new options on with some of the themes. I am not sure whether I like the changing background or not. Yeah, it is cool, but is it really practical to have a bunch of pictures in queue that change every hour. As I generally have the background covered up with other programs, I am not sure it is worth the cycles.

Windows Experience

I, unfortunately, do not have a rating here yet, as the computer BSODed while I tried to have it tested. I am going to try again when I have nothing open and see if there was a conflict between programs i was playing with or it is going to be an ongoing problem. I will post my findings here with an update.

General Feelings

With Internet Explorer and Media Center opened, Windows 7 is consuming about 1 GB of memory, so this is not a windows for low end computers. Then again, it runs on my Pentium 4 just fine, so I guess as long as you have memory, you will be fine.

Windows 7 runs a lot faster than Windows Vista. It also has a cleaner look and is much easier to navigate around. It still feels a lot like Vista. I do like the fact you can move the Sidebar items anywhere on the screen, but this is only marginally better than the Vista implementation, as you generally cover the Sidebar gadgets with real programs anyway.

Speaking of the sidebar, it is rather funny how it has been used for largely useless widgets. The demos Microsoft showed a few years ago gave some neat ideas of what it might become when it grows up, but with many companies still using XP, it never took off. Perhaps with Windows 7, but I am not holding my breath.

Startup and shut down are faster now. With the beta, it felt more like a ME experience, where Microsoft merely moved some of the visual elements earlier in the boot cycle. This meant it looked like you could use your computer faster than you actually could. Of course, ME was considered Windows Bob by many people, so I am glad they did not follow the same path when coding Windows 7.

Games

Windows installed games are not usually a strong point, and I see the standard stuff here. Chess titans, FreeCell, Hearts, Internet Backgammon, Internet Checkers, Internet Spades, Majong Titans, Minesweeper, Purble Place (children’s game), Solataire and Spider Solitaire. Not sure why they have not included Tinker (a Vista Ultimate strategy game), as it was the best of the lot.

Features

I like the fact I can use the Windows keys to open programs I used most often. Drag them on the toolbar and you can Windows key shortcut to them by pressing Windows Key + the number of the item. On the snippet below, that means:

  1. Internet Explorer
  2. Windows Explorer
  3. Media Player
  4. MSPaint
  5. Snippet Tool

Toolbar

This makes it much nicer. In addition, you can right click on the items on the toolbar and get a shortcut menu. With Internet Explorer, you get the option of opening a new window, opening a new tab or even going back through history. There is also an option called In Private, which allows you to use Internet Explorer without leaving a bunch of traces (I can see both good and bad uses for this option).

I can click any item on the toolbar and get previews (note the hover causes a full screen preview, as well) …

Full Screen Preview

or right click and get a menu.

Right Click Menu

I also think this magnifier might come in handy for demos.

Magnifier

Overall, I believe this is what Vista should have been.

Peace and Grace,
Greg

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One Response to Windows 7 RC

  1. Rob says:

    Very cool blog, man. I’m trying to get the RC downloaded now…just taking awhile! Glad you like it, though! 🙂

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