All posts by Juliana Peña

Colombian Computer Science student in Mexico. Aspiring researcher and game developer. Fan of movies, literature, comics and video games.

My Windows 7 Review

Windows 7 build 7000 desktop
Windows 7 build 7000 desktop

I got my hands on one of the Windows 7 beta build 7000 copies. I installed 7 and have been testing it for a few hours. Here are my thoughts:

Loved:

  1. Windows Explorer feels much faster. Opening folders in removable drives, particularly, is considerably faster than is Vista.
  2. Cross that, Windows OVERALL feels much, much faster.
  3. Windows Media Player 12 is much faster and smaller
  4. Installation was very fast and most of the hardware was installed automatically
  5. Aero enhancements for resizing windows work great
  6. The new preview API for the taskbar is awesome. In IE7, all tabs are previewed. In Media Player, playback buttons are added.
  7. Minor graphic enhancements are very welcome and greatly improve functionality and aesthetics.
  8. Very little bundled software apart from IE, Media Player, Media Center, Paint and Wordpad. Mail, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, etc, will be free downloads. This makes the base installation faster and smaller.
  9. Updated versions of Paint and Wordpad are good, but the updated Calc is one of the best calculator apps out there. HEXelon Max is obviously better and always my choice when my TI-84 isn’t at hand, but this Calc PWNS the calculator app bundled with Linux, something the XP and Vista Calcs could only dream of.
  10. Picture slideshows as desktop pictures. I don’t know if this will be exclusive to Ultimate, as it currently is in Vista (the beta is only available in Ultimate edition), but since I’ve always used Vista Home Premium, this is a nice change.
  11. Windows that have progress bars show them in their taskbar item. This is extremely useful, to say the least. This includes IE downloads (although IE’s download system remains considerably crappy, without even a pause option).

Didn’t like (but can be fixed easily, or will be fixed soon):

  1. The new way the taskbar groups windows. Thankfully, this can be disabled and I could go back to the “classic” view where each window has its icon and label, with the cool addition that window labels of the same program are kept next to each other and the window previews are shown at the same time.
  2. The big taskbar icons. Please give me back my real estate. (This can also be changed)
  3. Non-Microsoft programs are not yet compatible with the preview API for the taskbar. So, no all tab previews for Firefox (tried with Shiretoko too). Hopefully, Mozilla and other developers will add this functionality soon.

Hated:

  1. Selected programs in the taskbar are shown white. Since I enabled labels, the white text on white background combination is very difficult to read.
  2. Some drivers had to be installed manually (graphics card and Bluetooth). Oh, well. I guess we can always expect Windows to always leave some driver-hunting to us. As a sidenote, ALL of my hardware is working perfectly after installing Vista-specific drivers.

My Windows 7 beta installation, after installing Office 2007 and Firefox, takes up 11.4 GB. I’m guessing that Office takes up a little less than a gigabyte, plus 2GB each for the hibarnation file and the page file, would give a core installation of less than 7GB, which is about the same as Vista. Not bad at all.

I seem to have a love-hate relationship with the new taskbar, but I think it’s just a matter of getting used to it. Changes in UI from Vista are considerable, but not nearly as many as from XP to Vista. The control panel, one of the most painful changes I had when I started using Vista, remains virtually unchanged except for some useful and natural minor UI enhancements.

My Veredict: Awesome, best Windows to date. When this finally comes out, hopefully sometime this year, it will be a much-welcomed update to the already very powerful and stable OS Vista is.

My Hardware Setup

Laptop

Model: Dell Inspiron 1420

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2GHz

Memory: 2 GB

Hard drive: 160 GB

Screen: 14 inch 1440×900

Graphics: nVidia 8400M GS

Peripherals

Mouse: Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000

Gamepad: Microsoft Xbox 360 wired USB controller

Tablet: Wacom Bamboo

USB flash drive: Kingston DataTraveler 8GB

External hard drive: Western Digital My Passport 320GB

Earphones: Sony MDR-EX71

Gaming

Console: Sony PlayStation 2

Handheld: Nintendo DS Lite

Secondary handheld: GameBoy Advance SP

Mobile

Primary: BlackBerry Pearl 8130 with Iusacell

Secondary: Nokia 2630 with Telcel

My Software Setup

Operating system: Windows Vista Home Premium

Web browser: Mozilla Firefox

Office suite: Microsoft Office 2007

Calender: Google Calendar

Email: Gmail

RSS Reader: Google Reader

Music player: foobar2000

Video player: VLC

Podcatcher: Miro

Torrent downloader: µTorrent

IM: Pidgin

Voip: Skype & Telmex Softphone

Backup: Mozy Home

Time management: RescueTime

Personal finance manager: Buxfer

Programming IDE: Visual Studio 2008 Express (C/C++ and C#) & Eclipse Ganymede (Java, Python, Ruby)

Text editors: Notepad2 & Notepad++

Decompressor: 7-zip

Virtual CD mounter: Virtual CloneDrive

Antivirus: Avast

Desktop search: Google Desktop

Widget engines: Google Desktop & Vista Sidebar

Awesome tiny utilities: Katmouse, PenAttention, gAttach, HEXelon MAX, Launchy