First Windows 7 Experience

(Note: This is all personal experience at home…it isn’t related to my employment.)

I downloaded and installed the Windows 7 Beta on my decommissioned SBS machine.  I’d intended to put a real graphics board in it, but hadn’t gotten around to that.  Win7 installed quickly and I was up and running well before I expected.  My only complaint isn’t about Win7 at all, it is about my hardware.  This was a Dell server configuration, and the integrated graphics for it is really the bare minimum.  So, no Aero and just a horrible look overall.  But that aside the experience has been great.

One good hardware thing.  This box had always caused me problems on software installation.  For example, W2K3 (and SBS 2003) did not come with a driver for the integrated network chip.  I would have to install the OS, then go download a Vista version of the driver using another machine and move it over via CD in order to get on the network.  Win 7 came with the driver, and so far all of the hardware on the system is working (although there are some limitations in power management as I’ll show in the next posting).

I installed the Windows Live Essentials, and this is coming to you from Live Writer running on Windows 7.

I was happy to see that there was a choice of three anti-virus programs available already, and I installed a trial edition of AVG, which seems to be running fine.  Now this is a complex area that has me a little worried.  There is no totally free during beta anti-virus, so after 30 days I’m either going to have to try another one or buy AVG.  Given that my favored anti-virus, OneCare, isn’t available (and that it may never be available) I’d at least like something free for the entire beta period.  Perhaps Avast! will come through with a Windows 7 compatible version soon.

I then tried one of my tests.  I like to use Spybot S&D as a “backup” to Windows Defender, but it traditionally hasn’t worked on new OS versions in a very timely fashion.  Well, I installed the standard 1.6.0 version without problem and so far it seems to be working.  That’s a pretty good indicator for Win7 being highly compatible with Vista.

Overall Windows 7 performance is great.  Most operations seem noticeably faster.  Indeed, faster on this system than Vista is on my newer and better spec’d desktop.

I haven’t done anything scientific, but with the default settings UAC now seems to be at about the right balance.  I’ve barely noticed it, yet realize that I have been asked for confirmation at the appropriate times.  I’m sure someone coming from XP will notice it more than I, but hopefully it is now at a level where they’ll welcome the added safety rather than bemoan how it has destroyed the user experience.

I haven’t really gotten around to using new features yet, but my first impression of Win 7 is that the team did put the right level of focus on the basics.  The “abilities” as we refer to them in the server world.  If my initial impression holds, this is an OS I’ll be rushing to put on my family’s PCs.  Both those running Vista and those still running XP.

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