Microsoft Windows 7 - In-Depth First Impressions and Review
We’ve been playing with the new Beta release of Microsoft Windows 7 for about a week now and here are our first impressions of Microsoft’s new OS as well as the bundled Internet Explorer 8.
We installed Windows 7 on top of VMWare Fusion running on a MacBook Pro with an Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.5Ghz. Windows 7 was given 12GB of HD space, 1.0GB RAM and 1-core. Without a doubt the OS flies on this configuration.
Note: Some users might need to make a manual configuration change to the .vmx file in VMWare Fusion to avoid a new and dreaded blue screen kernel panic. A fairly simple fix, we’ve explained the steps to make this change at the end of this article. This is only for VMWare Fusion users.
Please be sure to read this great Article from AtomicSub by clicking the link after the break below!
The first thing you’ll notice in Windows 7 is a sleek new taskbar. It’s responsive, there’s no more delay when clicking the Start button (like in XP and Vista) and menu’s load up rather quickly. Something that Microsoft has taken from the Linux world is the helpful and handy ’show desktop’ button located on the bottom right of the taskbar. The Start menu feels a lot like Vista’s and now includes a quick and handy search for locating documents and etc.
Another major change we noticed is that minimizing application windows now aggregate into the icon of that particular application. For example, minimizing multiple Internet Explorer windows places them under the IE icon on the taskbar. When you click the icon a list rises to show what you have open and you must manually click to open whatever it is you’d like. This was disappointing and felt like they didn’t spend enough time on this feature. There’s a new nicer looking date and clock and overall the new taskbar feels good, so far.
Application switching works well with the Alt-Tab combination but doesn’t compare to Mac OS X’s.
In the continuing trend of Microsoft copying Apple’s UI, they have added some “new” features. The first is Sticky Notes and the second is Snipping Tool (aka screen capture like Shift+Cmd+4 in OS X). Welcome to the party Microsoft.
New to Microsoft and Windows 7 are Gadgets (or as has been the case in the Apple world for years, Dashboard Widgets). Microsoft has given users the ability to drag various widgets into Windows 7 such as clocks, calendars, weather widgets, stocks, and etc. Nothing new here, at least for OS X users.
For those who still care, Microsoft has spent many hours redesigning a new version of Paint that resembles it’s Office 2007 Suite. The new paint is actually usable compared to its older sibling.
Let’s move on to the Control Panel. Very similar to Vista here but the options grow once you select an item. Selecting System and Security gives you myriad of customization options from Windows Firewall, System, Power Options, Backup and Restore, Device Manager and some newbies too. New on the list is Action Center for fixing issues, BitLocker Drive Encryption, and the Backup and Restore selection.
Selecting and switching different options in Control Panel is very responsive and a major plus from XP & Vista. Uninstalling a program is much improved and there’s no more waiting to scan for what programs you have installed - applications load instantly.
Moving onto the new Internet Explorer 8. There’s a significant improvement in load times for the application itself and webpages in IE8. New features include Slices and InPrivate Browsing as well as others. Slices allow you to add your favorites to the toolbar in a new Microsoft kinda-way and InPrivate Browsing is just that, private browsing with no history so your wife won’t catch you on pornhub!
Playing around with Windows 7 leads us to the following conclusions: the OS is much more responsive than anything we’ve ever seen from the friendly people from Redmond. The GUI is much improved and has a nice dynamic feel that gives you responsive feedback. Installing Windows 7 was a breeze even under a virtualized environment and besides the quick edit to .vmx file there hasn’t been one crash or problem yet.
Windows 7 is a major upgrade from Vista which is slowly disappearing into the void. Microsoft has done a nice job so far by focusing on the important features of a successful operating system: responsiveness, nice clean user interface, speed and ease of use. It is still to early to judge reliability and stability of the new OS, but time will tell. IE8 also seems to be a major improvement over IE7 but in our view, Firefox is still the better browser.
Attention VMWare Fusion Users: In order to run Windows 7 without kernel panics or the dreaded blue screen a quick configuration file change is needed. Locate your Virtual Machine directory (usually ~/documents/virtual machines/) and right-click the VM (since Fusion doesn’t support Windows 7 it would be named Windows Vista — please be sure to read the “How-To Install Windows 7″ article exclusively from AtomicSub — click here!). When the right-click menu appears, choose “Show Package Contents” and open the .vmx fil in Text edit. Make the following changes to the .vmx file:
scsi0.present = "TRUE"
scsi0.present = "FALSE"
Save it, and start the VM (make sure the VM is shutdown and not in standby when you’re doing this!) That’s it, have fun with Windows 7! Please be sure to leave a comment with questions and comments!
Additionally, VMWare Fusion users experiencing audio issues including no sound devices installed are encouraged to install VMWare Tools and reboot the system.