Microsoft’s latest operating system which is projected to be released sometime in 2009 is called Windows 7. I have gotten my hands on a copy of the beta (both 32 and 64 bit) to test it out. My initial reactions of the new operating system are positive. I have never been a Vista basher, in fact, I used it daily without any issues before I purchased my Mac Pro over the summer. That being said, I must say Windows 7 is a definite improvement over Vista (as it should be). Nonetheless, this version of Windows will definitely be a solid release (in my opinion). I think anyone who is currently running Vista should strongly consider an upgrade, likewise anyone whose machine came with Vista pre-installed and installed XP thereafter should also strongly consider this upgrade to Windows 7 when it is released. However, I should note that if your machine is as old or nearly as old as XP (over 7 years old), you may want to hold off on 7 until your next machine.
Ok, let’s get to the good stuff shall we?
The install is very similar to Vista’s with the graphical installer which essentially the same. However, the install is definitely much quicker, I got the Windows 7 beta installed in 20-25 minutes.
Boot time is pretty speedy too, I was able to boot in under a minute (including be able to use the machine).
The new taskbar (superbar) is definitely very sleek and useful for managing and manipulating windows. I like the preview thumbnails and the fact you can switch between windows using the thumbnails. While the new taskbar may look a bit different the old functionality is still present but definitely enhanced with the slick new effects. I should also note you can uncombined windows on the taskbar if you so choose via the taskbar properties.
Built-in memory diagnostics can be accessed via the Accessories folder in the Start menu – this is a tool I hope is actually included in the final release and not just stuck in there as a developer tool. Memory diagnostic tools are very helpful and having it built right into Windows would definitely be nice.
The Windows Firewall has been beefed up with additional functionality and management tools. For example, you can now import and export firewall policies which is nice if you have to reinstall Windows and don’t want to lose your firewall policies.
Improved software compatibility has definitely been high on Microsoft’s list of priorities with the brand new Compatibility Troubleshooter which can be accessed by right-clicking any executable file and select Troubleshoot Compatibility. This will bring up a new dialog box which you can go through and tell Windows when this application or software installer last worked. For example, if you wanted to install Firefox and it didn’t work, but you knew it worked on Windows Vista you can select Vista as that option and the troubleshooter will attempt to run it under Vista compatibility and if successful you can have it save those settings so you never need to tell it to run under Vista again.
There are a number of more features in Windows 7 such as Jump lists, Homegroups, and integration with mobile devices, etc. I plan to cover those features and functionality in the future, if you’re interested in looking into them now check out Microsoft’s website.
Have you tried Windows 7 beta 1? What do you think so far? Leave a comment!