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May 04, 2009

Windows 7 RC first thoughts . . .

I've got Windows 7 RC (Release candidate 1) running on my production laptop at work now.  No guts, no glory.  Actually it was an easy decision to do the upgrade as soon as RC was available because my experience with the beta version of Windows 7 has been so good.  I'm running Windows 7 on all but on of my computers now, and that includes the FJ Car Computer, and yes it runs Office Communicator just fine.  I've even done a video conference from the FJ.  (Safely parked, I promise!  And I don't have RC on the FJ yet.)

Windows7intheFJ 

Here's what I especially like in Windows 7

  • It's fast.  It boots very quickly and resumes from suspend within two or three seconds.  Lately I've noticed a lot of laptop users that always shutdown their machines completely.  I had problems in XP, and some in Vista with putting machines to sleep, but I haven't had that problem once with Windows 7.
  • I like the new look.  It isn't radically different, though the RC candidate release has a nice new login screen.
  • I LOVE the fact that when I open my laptop at home, it realizes I'm on a new network and gives me a new default printer which is actually at home.  With XP and Vista I was always trying to send things to the wrong printer.  Setup is as easy as telling it a default printer for each different network you really care about.
  • I LOVE being able to "peek" at running apps on the task bar.  Internet Explorer makes the best use of it, but other apps will pick up the ability in time.  Now when I have five windows or tabs (doesn't matter) open in IE, I can very quickly jump to the one I care about without cycling through all the others.  Outlook uses it effectively too.  You have to see it and play with it a bit to get it, but once you do you will curse Vista and XP for not having it.  This alone will drive me to upgrade my last Vista machine.  Here's a video showing Aero Peek, Aero Shake and Aero Snap - turn your speakers down if you are at work or the kids are asleep.  Aero peek
  • I've always customized my task bar and start menu with the apps I use the most.  Every version of windows makes this easier, but now it is dead simple and everyone will be pinning apps they really care about to the start menu and task bar.
  • In Vista the cool little app that became a part of my everyday work flow was the snipping tool. Snipping tool   With Windows 7, it might be the magnifier tool.  Magnifier tool
  • This may have happened in Vista, but the calculator now can server as a programmer's calculator.  I didn't care before, but now I do and I have no idea where my TI is anymore, though I'm sure I still have it.

Bottom line - It looks like Windows 7 is going to be a great upgrade.  I'll probably upgrade my last Vista machine soon, and then I'll buy my next new machine when I can get Windows 7 from the factory.  I realize this post is mostly about changes to the UI and apps, but I believe the real change is under the skins.  Windows 7 feels more stable and much faster.

Here's what I don't like, and all of these gripes have been around since even before XP.

  • Why is it that I can be working in a window, say typing happily along in a document, and then some other application can pop a window up and take the focus and thus my keystrokes until I notice that my window has been hijacked??  It always happens at the worst time too, like just as I'm about to type "yes, that would be a good idea" in an email, another application pops up and asks if I really want to cancel the download that has been chugging along for 20 minutes.  I hate it when that happens.  Many years ago I turned in a bug report as a beta tester of either Windows for Workgroups or Chicago about this behavior, but apparently I'm the only one who thinks this is a bug.  Do Apples do this too??
  • Have you ever noticed that when an error message does pop up, that you often can't copy and paste the error message into a document or email?  Why should I have to copy a message one character at a time into an email.  I often use the snipping tool to capture the error, but I can't always get to it.Error capture  By the way, I caused the error with the code I wrote, so I'm not complaining about the error, just that I didn't have an easy way to save the message.
  • Finally, why can't I sync notes back to Exchange Server just like I do email, calendar, contacts and tasks?  OK, that's not even a Windows problem but it still bugs me.

May 4, 2009 in Web/Tech | Permalink

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