Windows 7 – No Worries Mate!

I thought I would post about Windows 7 given that in two weeks time, the Release Candidate version (which I happen to run on my desktop) will start shutting down every two hours until it expires on 01/06/2010.

I backup my computer daily so for me to format and reinstall isn’t such a big deal given that I can pull stuff out of my backups if required. What is a little time consuming is the reinstallation of applications and device specific software (like multifunction printers) but I get around most of that by using a neat application called Ninite. Basically, it batches the download and installation of a wide range of applications all in one go. Pretty slick in my opinion.

Anyway, I was thinking about my experience with Windows 7 so far (and I’ve used the final version on my netbook, in a couple of VMs and on other laptops under my care) and I can honestly say that it has been the best version of Windows since Windows XP or Windows 95. I will note that it hasn’t been absolutely flawless with the occasional blue screen but I nailed that down to a dodgy BIOS on my motherboard. I’ve also had some ongoing niggles with the computer not wanting to go to sleep every now and then.

The built-in handling of solid state drives into Windows 7 is also handy which saves you the trouble of getting a bit creative with the alignment of partitions to sectors to avoid choppiness as well as TRIM support to keep performance levels up (although I jumped the gun and bought a non-TRIM capable SSD, serves me right). The availability of 64-bit versions of the operating system has also been fantastic (following on from Windows Vista) and the native driver super-sleuthing has been a pleasant and welcome surprise.

The user interface in Windows 7 was also an interesting change which did take a little getting used to in the beginning. I have found that it has become second nature in the six or so months I have been using Windows 7 and has left me feeling a bit spoilt when I have to go back to using Windows XP at work.

Windows Vista really did need the first service pack to build stability and an acceptable level of performance but Windows 7 has managed that from before the official release. I guess Windows 7 benefited from the harsh reception toward Windows Vista and subsequent lessons learned. In particular, driver support has been far less of an issue since most Vista drivers will work on Windows 7 without a hitch. Vista was not so lucky in this regard given a change to the driver model from Windows XP plus the fact that many device manufacturers did not make drivers available until well after the official release of Windows Vista.

Bad user experience, indeed.

Again, it’s been rock solid for myself and handles multiple VMs and graphically intense games gracefully (although 12GB of RAM and twin nVidia GTX 295 video cards does help). I would of course welcome the opportunity to clean house and start again.

One other thing, I do believe that this is the first time in a while that Microsoft has gotten its stuff together to maintain momentum in the market. Windows 7 launched in October 2009 alongside Windows Server 2008 R2 whilst Office 2010 will be out in around June 2010 and Visual Studio 2010 not too far behind. The last time there was this much activity in succession was back when Windows 95 was released.

I’d be interested to hear about experiences with Windows 7 from other people and whether or you plan to upgrade if you are using an older version of Windows.

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