Monday, January 12, 2009

Windows 7 Beta 1 Initial Thoughts

I was writing this post over the weekend, after walking away from it for a day and coming back to it this morning it occurred to me that it looked and felt more like a full fledged review rather than just an initial response. Not wanting to jump the gun and create a totally negative post I figured I better save some of what I've wrote for my full review and cut this down to the basics.

I've got it installed now what?

After Friday's short delays I finally got the software downloaded and installed, the installations was fairly quick and painless. After your first boot and a few setup options you are starring at a clean desktop. Both Vista and Windows 7 are plagued with what I can "icons for the blind", over sized icons that I can't stand. Windows 7 by default uses these new larger icons for the new taskbar, something I had to remedy immediately.

Luckily that is easy to fix. To shrink the desktop icons hold down the control key (CTRL) and use your mouse's scroll wheel to scroll either up or down depending on how big or small you want them. To change the taskbar icons right click on the task bar and check the small icons box. I know this might be a matter of personal preference and some users might like the larger icons but to me it looks too elementary. Like Microsoft is dumbing down the OS.

Large icons aside users that love Vista are going to love Windows 7 even more. Outside the new taskbar the user interface (UI) is bascially unchange. So you'll feel right at home.

Improved performance

Every review I've seen has said that Windows 7 is supposedly a lean mean Vista and XP killing machine. That the beta uses less resources than both previous operating systems. Personally I find it hard to believe that it uses less resources than XP. From my initial testing I didn't see much difference in boot times, speed or overall performance from Vista. The fresh install, with fewer applications, used roughly 8-10 fewer processes than my current Vista install, but that was still several more than my current XP install.

Memory usage between Windows 7 and Vista seemed to be about the same. This could be due to the way both Operating System cache memory, they hold as much memory as possible available for programs and release it as needed. It could also be that they both use a lot of meory. Since I haven't installed any applications that use a ton of memory like PhotoShop or Microsoft Office I didn't get to thoroughly test the memory usage. With just Firefox installed and most of my add-ons enabled I didn't see much difference. Again I just wanted to get a feel for the OS and not do any over the top testing.

The wow factor!

Aero Peek, unified program launchers and a jump list are all features of the new taskbar that add to Windows 7's wow factor. These are a few more of the things you are either going to really like or going to really hate.

Pinned programs become a window switchers that creates a single button on the task bar for each program and all of its corresponding windows. On mouse over you get interactive thumbnails that allow you to manage your open windows. Mouse over also enables Aero Peek, the window under the mouse pointer will appear on the desktop and all other windows fade away into glass sheets.

I'm a little on the fence over these new features. Aero Peek is great but I'm not sure about the unified program launchers. This is one of those features that will take some time getting use to, so I really don't want to say its a bad feature. More on the new Windows 7 taskbar.

Let's not forget about the new paint

Last night while posting some screenshots in a thread over at I stumbled upon the newest version of MS paint. Now it might not be relevant to testing a new operating system but its one of those things that caught me by surprise. The interface will remind users of something from Office 2007, which for me is a bad thing. But the program seems to have gained a little more functionality and usefulness.

Final thoughts

Windows 7 for the most part feels like Vista Second Edition or as a friends said, "what Vista should have been when it was released." There are several other features that are included that I have yet to test, therfore I didn't bother mentioning them.

I didn't bother with any in game testsat this time since I wanted to do an accurate side by side comparison to either Vista or XP. I want to test Windows 7 with all my daily apps installed and see how accurate the perforamce reports are. But from my initial views they reports I've seen are nothing more than hype.

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  1. Anonymous11:41 AM

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