Windows 7: Where's the Beef?

Sure, some things are unfinished, and quite a few things are broken, but given that we’re not even in the beta stage yet, Windows 7 is well rounded and offers quite a good experience.
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Windows 7 has been a popular talking point for pundits since Microsoft unveiled a pre-beta and provided a fair bit of information about the OS at the PDC 08 conference last month.

But is the OS any good? Where’s the beef? Or, more importantly, is there any beef to begin with? To help answer these questions, I’ve 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 I’ve 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, you’re probably going to hate Windows 7, because it’s obvious that the two operating systems share a lot of DNA.

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A question that people have asked me a lot over the past few days is “What’s Windows 7 like?” After a fair bit of thought, my best answer to this question is “like Vista … only better.” And I’m not just blowing hot air when I say that, I can highlight several areas where 7 really whips Vista. For example:

Speed

Windows 7 is, without a doubt, faster than Windows Vista. While it’s 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 it’s incredibly hard to measure, Windows 7 is undoubtedly snappier and more responsive under load that Vista is. In fact, I’d 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: That’s right, you heard me, Windows 7 has the one feature that Vista should have had – the ability to beat XP!

Reliability

For a pre-beta, Windows 7 is incredibly reliable. Sure, I’ve had a few crashes (more on these later), but overall Windows 7 is has performed exceptionally for a pre-beta.

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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 doesn’t 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.

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I do have quite a number of nagging questions about Windows 7 that I hope will be answered come the beta of the OS.

Continued: Windows 7 Consumer apps, and the user interface?


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Tags: Windows, Microsoft, IT, Vista, Windows 7


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