Windows 7 Beta

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Long ago, I did a quick review of Windows Vista which was a mixture of positive and negative.  It performed a lot better on my current PC than the one I had at the time, but still had some annoyances which won it one of my Wooden Spoon Awards for 2008.

So, bringing us up to date I installed the beta version of Windows 7 the other day and here are my initial thoughts.

  • Speed - it's an absolute speed demon. Boot up time is a good chunk quicker than it was on Vista (I believe this is mostly because it enumerates devices and loads drivers in parallel rather than one at a time). The desktop feels a lot more responsive too - dwm.exe is taking 0% CPU nearly all the time according to the task manager, rather than the 1-3% it always did under Vista. Kudos to Microsoft's OS optimisation engineers.
  • Drivers - On first install it was able to find drivers for everything on my system, with one exception which we'll get to later. It even automatically set up my desktop to 1600x1200 (the native resolution of my monitor) without any prompting from me which makes a great change from living in VGA land after an OS install.
  • Wireless - I don't know why, but every OS I seem to install has a problem with my Abit Airpace wireless card, and Windows 7 was no exception. It refused to automatically find a driver for it simply labelling it as an "Ethernet Device" in device manager. I tried installing the Vista 64 driver, but it refused to identify the card. Anyway, the Abit Airpace is basically a repackaged Atheros 5007, so I manually installed that driver from the list and all was well.
  • The new task bar is rather spanking. Hover the mouse over an icon and it shows all instances of that application above so you can quickly switch to it. It even manages to show each tab in Internet Explorer so you can quickly jump to the right tab in one click, though I'm not sure how well this works if you have more than half a dozen or so tabs open. Another nice innovation is that there's conceptually no difference between launching an application and switching to it, so the quick launch bar is gone and instead you have tabs on the task bar which perform both functions (reminds me of RISC OS 3 from 1992!). The only bad part about this is it takes up more screenspace by default, though I believe you can set the size of the icons - I just haven't tried this yet.

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Ars Technica have done an in depth review of the beta which explains the changes to the taskbar very well with lots of pictures.

http://arstechnica.com/articles/paedia/windows-7-beta.ars

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This page contains a single entry by KeefJudge published on January 12, 2009 3:37 PM.

2008 in Review was the previous entry in this blog.

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