As many of you will already know, the public beta of windows 7 was “leaked” recently and I I decided to take the plunge and try it out. At the moment, I’m using it as my main OS but I also still have my XP partition so I can flip back at any time without any problems. After all, this IS a beta so it’s not a good idea to use it as your only OS! Having said that there’s a lot to like about windows 7. and a fair bit to hate as well, although it’s a much nicer OS than vista, even though they are very very similar.

Loved

– It’s fast. Really fast!!! Bootup and shutdowns are like lightning compared to XP and vista! The system is also very responsive and appears very stable, even at this point. Not once have I managed to crash or freeze my system, although, admittedly, I haven’t been taxing it particularly hard.

-It’s oh so pretty. All those little features which they put into vista are all still there, the pointless transparancies, the even more pointless flip3D, etc. but they don’t seem to be taxing the system too much, whereas a lot of vista systems felt a little slow when it was running with all the bells and whistles on.

-the Sneak peek ability on the taskbar! when you have lots of the same type of window open on the task bar and they are grouped together (and even when they are not), moving the pointer over one of them will generate small pics of each window above the bar. Moving the pointer to one of the previews then makes all other windows on the desktop invisible other than the one you have picked. This allows you to easily and quickly get to the one you want, instead of having to read through the list to find the window you want.

-The UAC, or rather the lack of visibility of it!! It’s now much easier to turn off the UAC and they also added a feature to allow users to determine how strict the UAC is, so if you find it annoying but don’t want to turn it off, you can make it less intrusive.

Hated

at the end of the day, windows 7 is vista but optimised, so all the not-so-good changes are also back, like how they changed where all the options are in control panel and other parts of windows. I hated the fact that all the display options were in different places in vista and I hate that fact in windows 7 too. But it’s something one can get used to. It’s not a dealbreaker as the performance more than makes up for it.

– Remember the quickstart buttons on earlier windows? (those small icons next to the start menu?) Well now, they are integrated into the taskbar. You are able to pin applications to the task bar and they will always appear as a small icon. that’s fine, but they never go away, and the order will remain the same as well so if you have firefox between IE and your media player, then the media player icon will always be to the right of all your firefox windows. This is more of a personal niggle, but I would prefer all active applications to be on the right and inactive (i.e. iconed ones) to the left at all times. The pinning idea is good tho!

-Task manager is not as informative. When I started, I installed free AVG as my antivirus software. Problem is that it doesn’t get along well with windows 7 (even though when propted, windows will take you to the AVG website when you ask it to recommend an antivirus software). AVG active scanner (the main part of the software) would bump up my CPU load up to 100% every few seconds while it was running, which made the system as a whole, very unresponsive. But the process doesn’t appear in the task manager under processes. Instead, it shows up in the resource monitor, so it took me much longer to locate the problem. but once I did, it was plain sailing. I’m currently using Avast antivirus and have no problems thus far.

– The wireless feature is the only thing I really have issues with so far. It’s partially to do with my drivers, but I can’t seem to find more up-to-date ones for my adaptor. I’m using a linksys dual band wireless adaptor and it frequently cuts off. This was a minor issue in XP as well, but in XP, 1) it happens far less often and 2) it automatically reconnected!
That’s right, my wireless adaptor doesn’t automatically reconnect to the network, at least not every time. maybe 2 out of every 5. I either have to run a troubleshooter, which fixes it instantly, or reconnect the adaptor. I put it down the a beta issue, but it’s still really annoying!

The strangest thing is that, for me, the beta doesn’t make windows 7 look good, but rather it makes vista look bad! my impression is that “this is what vista should have been” and I’m still very glad I stuck with XP and not upgraded.
Compared to this beta, it feels like vista was released too early and was “undercooked” so to speak. I still have some design issues with it, but as an OS, even the beta feels solid!

If you’re confident in your PC know-how, why not give it a try? At least now, it seems that windows fans can stand proud and come out of the closet which vista forced them into…

And for those interested, I tested it on:

Athlon 64 3200 @ 2GHz
2GB RAM
NVidia Geforce 6600
15GB HD space

Pic courtesy of Gizmodo.