But is the OS any good? Wheres the beef? Or, more importantly, is there any beef to begin with? To help answer these questions, Ive switched a few test machines over to Windows 7 and actually been using the OS to carry out day-to-day work.
OK, so is there any beef or is Windows 7 just a re-packaged Vista? Well, as contradictory as it might sound, the answer to both these question is yes.
From what Ive seen on running the build 6801 pre-beta of Windows 7 (the one handed out at PDC), Windows 7 has plenty of new features to compared to Windows Vista. In fact, build 6801 is far better than its pre-beta tag suggests and is far better that early betas of Vista were.
However, if at your core you hate Vista, youre probably going to hate Windows 7, because its obvious that the two operating systems share a lot of DNA.
A question that people have asked me a lot over the past few days is Whats Windows 7 like? After a fair bit of thought, my best answer to this question is like Vista only better. And Im not just blowing hot air when I say that, I can highlight several areas where 7 really whips Vista. For example:
Windows 7 is, without a doubt, faster than Windows Vista. While its far too early to start benchmarking the OS just yet, there are noticeable speed increases in a number of key areas:
Install time has been cut dramatically: On a system that took 25-30 minutes to install Vista, 7 loads in about 15-20 minutes.
Startup and shutdown: Another area that seems to have received a lot of attention is startup and shutdown speed. Put Windows 7 and Vista in a drag race and 7 wins the startup race by about 10% and the shutdown race by some 15%.
Overall OS responsiveness: While its incredibly hard to measure, Windows 7 is undoubtedly snappier and more responsive under load that Vista is. In fact, Id rate the difference between Windows 7 and Vista SP1 to be greater than Vista and Vista with SP1 installed.
-- Windows 7 finally beats XP hands down: Thats right, you heard me, Windows 7 has the one feature that Vista should have had the ability to beat XP!
For a pre-beta, Windows 7 is incredibly reliable. Sure, Ive had a few crashes (more on these later), but overall Windows 7 is has performed exceptionally for a pre-beta.
Ease of use
A recurring complaint about Windows Vista was that it made simple stuff difficult by burying even the simplest set of options inside too much UI, and illogically carried forward too much UI clutter from XP. With Windows 7 Microsoft has started to correct this. Windows 7 doesnt fix everything yet because the UI is still very much a work in progress and feels a little schizophrenic in places, but you can see many places where Microsoft has simplified the UI.
I do have quite a number of nagging questions about Windows 7 that I hope will be answered come the beta of the OS.