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Windows 7 RC Review

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Windows 7 RC Review: Good Speed, Bad Taskbar

 

May 4, 2009

By Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

 

With the Windows 7 Release Candidate build (build 7100) leaked to torrents recently, it’s finally possible for us to get a look at what Microsoft’s new OS will be like when it’s finally released to what appears to be an eagerly awaiting tech community.

With the ISO downloads in hand, I’ve been busy installing and using the Release Candidate code on a number of systems and can bring you my “no holds barred” list of Windows 7’s “the good, the bad and the ugly” features.

 

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The Good

 

Let’s begin by looking at the good side of Windows 7, and let’s kick off our analysis of the “good” by looking at what I think is the best feature of Windows 7: performance.

 

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One of the biggest complaints leveled at Windows Vista at the time it launched was that the performance it delivered was abysmal. In fact, in almost every benchmark test carried out, XP easily beat Vista.

 

Not only was the OS a drag on performance, but the first wave of graphics card and chipset drivers from the major OEMs delivered abysmal performance which dragged down benchmark scores for games. This meant that the OS seriously burned the earlier adopters who made the leap to Vista.

 

Bad reviews of Vista on blogs and forums quickly followed and the operating system was permanently tarnished. From that point onward, nothing that Microsoft could do to the OS could change how many saw the OS.

 

Testing shows that a post SP1 installation of Vista is usually faster than XP SP3 on a similarly specced machine, but there’s an entrenched code of Windows users who totally refuse to believe this.

 

To make sure that history didn’t repeat itself, Microsoft made performance top priority in the development of Windows 7. And it worked.

 

Even the earliest code to leak out of Microsoft showed that Windows 7 could outpace Vista, and with each subsequent build that was leaked, we saw an improvement in performance.

 

When it comes to the final release of Windows 7 (and don’t ask me when this will be, I don’t yet have a clue), I won’t have any performance-related worries when I upgrade systems.

 

Now I don’t want to leave you with the impression that there’s nothing more to Windows 7 than a performance boost. There’s a lot more to like in Windows 7. For example, the new user interface. When Microsoft released Vista, the feeling that I and many others had was that the UI changes represented a change for the sake of change, and that they did nothing to improve the user experience or make the OS easier to navigate.

 

I don’t feel that way about the Windows 7 UI, and while I do have a few gripes about the new UI, overall I think that it’s a marked improvement over both the Vista UI and that of XP.

 

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Then there’s backward compatibility. When users moved from XP to vista, there was a very good chance that the move would necessitate the purchase of some new bit of software of hardware (or both).

 

Since Windows 7 is built on core technologies introduced in Vista, the compatibility speed bump is much smaller and most users will be able to upgrade without having to spend money on new hardware or software.

 

And finally, there’s the new “XP Mode” feature that was unveiled last week. This feature will allow users of Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise to have access to a Windows XP SP3 virtual machine to run any software that’s not compatible with the new OS. While I’m sure this feature won’t end all compatibility issues, it could be quite interesting.

 

The Bad

 

I promised you a warts and all look at Windows 7, and that’s what you’ll get. Let’s move on to look at what’s bad in Windows 7.

 

First on the bad list is a repeat of a complaint that was leveled at Vista – that there are too many editions. Putting aside the Enterprise edition, which only volume licensing customers will ever see, Windows 7 comes in five flavors:

 

• Starter

 

• Home Basic (only available in developing nations)

 

• Home Premium

 

• Professional

 

• Ultimate

 

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Microsoft claims that these editions are required to offer the end user with the right range of features at the right price. Personally, I think that the old days where there were two editions of Windows, Home and Professional, was better because it meant far less end user confusion. However, the multiple edition model does allow Microsoft to chisel more cash out of confused consumers, so in the end it’s a good thing for shareholders.

 

Then there’s that Starter edition. Starter edition is a crippled version of Windows that only used to be available in developing nations. It’s crippled in that you can only run three applications at any one time, it’s missing a whole bunch of new UI features such as the Aero UI, and there are no media center features.

 

The problem with the Starter edition of Windows 7 is that this edition will be offered by OEMs on cheaper systems, such as netbooks, so be careful when buying cheaper systems and make sure that you’re aware as to how these limitations might affect you.

 

The Ugly

 

There’s also an ugly side to Windows 7, and it relates to the UI. I said earlier that overall I was impressed with the UI changes that Microsoft had made, but there’s one are that I feel rightly deserves the “ugly” label, and that’s the newly revamped TaskBar.

 

The problem isn’t so much with the TaskBar as the default view that Microsoft has chosen for the way it handles having multiple Windows open. The default view crams the windows together on the TaskBar and makes it difficult to find the Window you want.

 

Fortunately, it’s easy to fix this. Just right-click on a blank part of the TaskBar and choose “Properties” and then “Combine when taskbar is full.”

 

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It’s a simple fix to what could otherwise be very annoying.

 

Overall, Windows 7 looks set to be a great Windows OS, perhaps Microsoft’s best since Windows NT 4.0. However, it remains to be seen whether it will be loved like Windows XP, or hated like Windows Vista.

 

Man, Windows 7 seems like a great operating system; Microsoft's first operating system success after Windows XP. :) I don't think I'll be testing it though because I only test operating systems after they come out of their RC/Beta stages into actual on-the-market type stage. Windows 7 will probably be expensive though. :(

 

Off-Topic: PixPipeline is a REALLY fast image hoster. I uploaded 3 images at a time in a second!

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Windows 7 will probably be expensive though. :(

 

As if Vista wasn't. 7 sounds better.

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As if Vista wasn't. 7 sounds better.

 

I agree, from the reviews iv'e seen so far 7 seems much better.

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Starter edition is a crippled version of Windows that only used to be available in developing nations. It's crippled in that you can only run three applications at any one time
Why on earth would they release that, surely no-one would bother buying it (unless by accident in which case they'll be pretty pi$ed off)?

 

According to this ComputerActive article Windows 7 could be released in October:

 

http://www.computeractive.co.uk/computerac...n-drawn-windows

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I'm very annoyed at the moment since I'm off to uni in September and I'll need a new PC or Laptop. The problem is that I'll end up getting a Vista because Windows 7 will probably launch in early 2010 :(

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Good thing I'm not getting a new comp (most likely laptop), until middle of next year (most likely). Windows 7 will probably be the default operating system by then.

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Can I suggest removing your email address, its not a good idea posting it on an open forum.

Edited by Andavari
Removed quoting of a user asking for distribution of copyrighted software, not you JDPower the person you quoted.

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I have Windows 7 build 7100, and i think there is barely anything wrong with it. It's fast, looks good, much more new features... I love it.

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there is nothing wrong with Windows 7. i have used it but i prefer Vista until 7 becomes Final.

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I just hope it's actually worth upgrading to from XP when it becomes finalized.

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Vista is so much better than XP... Why does anyone think it's not? THINK WHAT I THINK! ... :blink: Yup.

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Vista is a resource hogger which is why it got so many bad reviews. A lot of people can't upgrade because their PCs can't support Vista. Which is why Microsoft had to make Windows 7 in the first place.

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I don't think you can 'upgrade' from XP to 7. You can upgrade from XP to Vista. And you can upgrade from Vista to 7. Kinda defeats the purpose since the words "clean install" can never be scraped from your brains, can they? And who is gonna buy Vista just so they can buy & install 7? Mr. Moneybags from Monopoly?

 

Another thing, the only way XP can "run" within 7 is through Virtual PC, etc. Why even bother? Can't you just partition for XP? :rolleyes:

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Is Windows 7 going to be the name of the OS when it finally hits the streets? It's not exactly a snazzy name and the only reason I can think of for it's name is it's (by my count) the 7th version of Windows starting from Windows 95 (95, 98, 2000, ME, XP, Vista, 7). Have I missed out any other Microsoft OS there?

 

It really needs a better name. Windows 7 just sounds like a temporary name given while the product is in development.

 

Out of interest, what were XP and Vista called while they were in the development stages?

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Is Windows 7 going to be the name of the OS when it finally hits the streets? It's not exactly a snazzy name and the only reason I can think of for it's name is it's (by my count) the 7th version of Windows starting from Windows 95 (95, 98, 2000, ME, XP, Vista, 7). Have I missed out any other Microsoft OS there?

 

It really needs a better name. Windows 7 just sounds like a temporary name given while the product is in development.

 

Out of interest, what were XP and Vista called while they were in the development stages?

 

Vista's is Longhorn, XP's is Whistler.

 

I think it's worth getting a new computer for vista if you have the money. Well... not now because Windows 7 is coming out.

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Is Windows 7 going to be the name of the OS when it finally hits the streets? It's not exactly a snazzy name and the only reason I can think of for it's name is it's (by my count) the 7th version of Windows starting from Windows 95 (95, 98, 2000, ME, XP, Vista, 7). Have I missed out any other Microsoft OS there?

 

You did forget some. Actually, it's based on the NT versions - the underlying code. From http://blogs.zdnet.com/Bott/?p=568

Update: A few people are wondering how you get to ?the seventh version? and thus qualify for the Windows 7 moniker. I don?t know the answer definitively, but can easily get to that point if I count only members of the NT family with numbers attached to their names: Windows NT 3.1 (yep, that was the very first release), 3.5, 4.0, 2000, XP, Vista. That?s six, making the next release number 7. If you try to count using the consumer versions from the Windows 9X family (or the barely usable Windows 1 and 2 releases), you?ll quickly go mad.

 

It really needs a better name. Windows 7 just sounds like a temporary name given while the product is in development. Out of interest, what were XP and Vista called while they were in the development stages?

 

Look here--> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_codenames

 

AJ

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