Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Windows 7 - My Initial Impression

It's pretty much everything you've already read on blogs, or online reviews.  However, I thought I would add some lesser known aspects:
  • It's much more LEAN than Vista.  The C: drive has 4 folders by default (PerfLogs, Program Files, Users, and Windows).  There are only 4 user accounts by default also.
  • More commands are moved to the "front", requiring fewer clicks to access
  • It performs much faster than Vista or XP SP2/SP3
  • Paint has some new (and nice) brush tools and shape tools added
  • UAC should be renamed "Unobtrusive Account Control".  It's hardly seen (using the default settings)
  • There are no "pinned" apps on the Start Menu by default.  You have to pin them yourself (or to the Task Bar also)
  • Lots of new Group Policy settings have been added
  • The new "Screen Resolution" applet is a huge improvement over previous features
  • There's a small "Send Feedback" link at the top/right of every dialog form
  • The icon motif is somewhat mixed.  Some icons look like Vista, some look like Linux (2-D flat, squared shapes)
  • The Task Bar is both good and bad.  Good in that it's easier to navigate and click on things.  Bad in that it mixes running applications and shortcuts together on the same bar.  A little weird and confusing.
  • Network options are a bit easier to navigate than on Vista (nice).
  • It creates a 200 MB partition ahead of C: during install.  Probably for recovery utilities.
  • PowerShell is installed by default, and it also adds a path to the system environment list.  So PowerShell is finally a first-class citizen in W7.
  • The "Turn Windows features on or off" feature still launches a stupid child dialog form, rather than working seamlessly within the Add/Remove Programs console.
  • The Explorer shell uses a new left-hand sidebar panel.  The default behavior is a bit strange at first.  It uses a static-mode tree motif, where clicks on objects do not invoke expansion/collapse during the enumeration process.  You have to explicitly click on the small ">" to the left of an object to expand or collapse it within the panel.  This might make it easier for new users to navigate with less frustration.  Small, but nice.  The separation of "Libraries" and "Favorites" is kind of weird though.  Downloads is under "Favorites" while Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos are all under "Libraries".  Weird.
  • Windows Media Player has finally been updated to improve the sidebar navigation and breadcrumb navigation consistency.  Otherwise, it's pretty much the same as WMP 11.
  • VMWare Workstation 6 Tools do not install correctly.  They get to 99.9% and crash and revert all the way out.
  • Google Chrome works fantastic on Windows 7
In short, this appears to be more of a Vista 2.0 than a real upgrade.  But that's not "bad" at all.  The overall "feel" is more like Vista than not.  There are many improvements and changes throughout the build which distinguish it from Vista however.  If the EULA is more forgiving, or the pricing model is a bit more reasonable, I could see this being a big hit for Microsoft.  If it follows the same path as Vista, I don't see it doing any better however.  Mainly because I can't tell if Microsoft is going to get serious about marketing or continue kicking the can down the street.  Windows 7 is pretty nice.
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