Today I got my hands on Windows 7. I have used it a few times in the past just to do a task and it always worked just like Vista. Today I had the chance to install it on a computer that I own. Here are my impressions.
The install was almost exactly like Vista, many of the screens were exactly the same except a different background. It seems to have taken about the same amount of time as Vista to install. The installed size was 6GB smaller than when I install Vista. When it came up it looked almost like vista, except the icons on the QuickLaunch were larger. But then after more examination I noticed that it is a hybrid sort of QuickLaunch, putting programs that are running and those that are not on the same bar. Basically you see the icon and when the program is running it draws a box around the icon. If you run more than one it draws more boxes out to the right. If a program is running and you click the icon again it minimizes the application. You can right click and select the program name again to launch a second copy. If more than one is running and you click on the icon it will show you a thumbnail of each copy that is running. Not a bad way to do things, but will take some getting used to that is for sure. I am not sure that I really like this idea, and there is no option to do it the old way.
The major thing I noticed is that it was almost exactly like vista. Almost every menu is exactly the same. The Gadgets that come with the OS are all the same, except they added a launcher for Media Center, and you can zoom some gadgets to make them bigger and provide more info. The games that come with the OS are the exact same group that comes with Vista, and the screen saver list is even shorter. I was really looking for a really nice new screensaver or game idea, but alas there is not one.
Some really nice things I noticed about the OS is that is DOES seem to be quite a bit faster. AVG installed much faster. Also when it connected to a network it automatically started to set up sharing. No more having to turn on sharing in 5 different places in Vista to get it to share something. Also it has a really cool feature where it changes the background every few minutes, really making it seem alive, and it was very easy to download themes online. There also was a large amount of great sound themes installed from the get go, much nicer than vista.
Another feature that I have been wishing that windows had for many years is the ability to simply make EVERYTHING bigger. Before windows 7 if you wanted to make everything bigger the only real way to do it was to use a lower resolution, but this was so bad, especially on LCD monitors, it would make things blurry and such due to not having a 1 to 1 ratio between the resolution and the native pixels on the screen. If you wanted to make things bigger you had to do things in many different location. And vista and xp considered the resolution part of the hardware, so if one user changed it, it would be changed for all users. Now with this zoom you can and should simply set your monitor to the highest resolution that it supports and then zoom for each user that needs it. I did notice that some legacy gadgets that I installed did not scale, but everything else did.
Wireless was also easier to connect. In vista you have to right click on the wireless, and choose to open the connection window, and there you can connect. Now when you right click it shows a list of wireless networks and a connect button next to each one, so easy. I also liked how all of the buttons were only white…I am not sure if I will still like that in a few days. There are also many other minor changed that I have seen. One thing it does by default now, something that I have been telling people to do for years, is that it puts all of the music, videos, public photos and such in a “Library” a place that all users have access to and it sets it up automatically for network shares, and such. Very nice that it finally is automatic. And to make it even better it even installed some modern codecs so that the videos actually play.
After installing a few progams I also noticed that there are many less confirmation dialog boxes, also the put all of those taskbar notifications together so that they bother you less. 3rd party notification are also put all in one area with no more annoying balloons. I am sure many of the people I help will really like this.
Conclusion. This OS is basically the same as vista with a few nice and useful enhancements. If you are installing an OS on a new computer I would go for Windows 7 for sure, there is no real down side at all. But if I had a computer that was working great with Vista and I had to pay to upgrade I would really think twice, that the benefits are not enough for all the trouble. All and all it is a good and stable OS, because it basically vista with a new interface, so no one should be afraid to upgrade like they were with vista. If you still use XP, then WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR, get windows 7, it should run on your computer and it MUCH better.
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