Monday, February 09, 2009

Windows 7 First Glance

I did something today that I have never done before. I downloaded and installed a Microsoft Windows public beta. I decided to do it because A) I had some spare hardware to use and B) I wanted to compare it to how Vista ran on similar hardware. This is mostly about performance. I don't intend to speak about many of the new features, if any.

I have read a few of the reviews of the beta saying it was very stable and was impressed that MS has decided to go from beta 1 to release candidate 1. If you don't know the significance of that trust me, it's a big deal. That just isn't done. Speculation is that it may actually get released early.

Anyway, here's the hardware:
Intel Celeron 3.06 GHz (single core)
40GB hard drive

This same hardware (well, it was a different motherboard but everything else is the same) was crippled by Windows Vista Ultimate Edition. It took 3-5 minutes to complete the startup cycle and be ready to actually do something (come to think of it, my dual core system has similar performance in that realm - which is why I don't shut it down unless I have to). Almost any task caused the system to go into an absence seizure for several seconds prior to initiating the task and the task itself I often described as sluggish. Media Center was flat out unusable. And forget anything even resembling multitasking.

Now, for Windows 7.

First, unrelated to performance, Windows 7 can be installed from a flash drive. The spare system does not have a DVD drive. I burned the beta to DVD on another system, then copied the contents of the disc to the flash drive. As long as your system can boot to a flash drive, this should work.

As for installation, it took approximately 40 minutes and required very little interaction. Quick and painless. It found drivers for all of my integrated hardware although it does not appear to have as robust a printer library but I hope that's just because it's a beta. I have yet to get my LJ 8000 to work.

I found that performing tasks was similarly painless. Some things popped up with little to no hesitation while others took only a second or two to start. The worst offenders seem to be installation programs but they tend to be slow to start anyway.

I haven't had a lot of time to work with it. I have yet to be able to get myI do have MS Office installed

[NOTE: It is at this point where my blog again earns its name. I actually had this finished. I went to post it and, even though it had been having difficulty saving drafts, didn't copy it to the clipboard so I lost everything else. Shall we try again?]

I haven't had a lot of time to work with it but I was able to let one task run and initiate another without too much difficulty (depending, of course, on how resource-intensive task 1 was). I did manage to get MS Office installed but haven't had time to actually use it. I tried to change a printer driver while Office was installing and it locked up both processes. Luckily I was able to 86 the driver update without too much difficulty.

I ran a performance check on the system and the integrated video card dragged it down to a 2.0. I have my Radeon 9600 plugged in but the board doesn't seem to recognize it's there (that may be why the mobo only cost me $5). I plan to do a comparison of individual components on the performance check between my current Vista system and the Windows 7 test system on the old hardware. I am going to add similar gadgets to Win 7 that I have on my Vista sidebar and I plan to compare startup times between the two. This should be interesting.

As I continue to work with Windows 7 I will let you know how things work out.

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