Two days ago, I laid my hands on the Windows 7 Beta. I went through the paining of moving and changing partitions. On any other given day, I would not have done this just for the sake of installing any version of Windows. But this time curiosity and the all round rave reviews got the better of me and I decided to take the plunge. I am not going to write a comprehensive review but would mention my specific experiences with Windows 7.
Before we start, here are the specs of my laptop, a Dell Inspiron 6400
Intel Core 2 Duo T5300 CPU @ 1.73 GHz
1 GB RAM
25 GB partition for Windows 7 formatted as NTFS
Intel 945 GMA
Intel 3495 Wireless Adapter
My system scored a experience rating of 3 with the hard disk being the lowest at 3 and the graphics at 3.1. The other components scored a decent 4.5
The installation was pretty smooth. It took about 35 minutes for the installation to complete. Vista came installed by Dell. Since I never installed another Windows version on my laptop I cannot judge the time taken. There were no issues at all and the process was also more streamlined. A couple of questions to begin with and there we go. Once the installation has been completed come the rest of the questions. It is more like a Linux distro install with one difference. My laptop rebooted twice during the installation. Can the Linux killer not install without rebooting yet? No.
Hard Disk Space
Windows 7 took about 50% of the hard disk space than Vista which came installed on the laptop. 7.2 GB of space was consumed by the OS. Bloat has been reduced by the way of removing Mail, Calendar etc which can now be downloaded.
Startup and Shutdown
Boot till login screen took 36 seconds. Impressive cosidering Vista took over a minute on the very same hardware
Login to Desktop took 8 seconds. Again impressive. Vista used to take more than 30 seconds
Shutdown took 15 seconds. Again, much better than its ancestor
Memory consumption has been considerably reduced compared to Vista. The OS consumed about 645 MB of RAM. I was able to open multiple Windows of Explorer, Internet Explorer and other applications like Paint and Wordpad. I know this is not a real test but I am just comparing with how Vista fared.
Aero was enabled by default and there was no fuss in running aero and I did not see memory consumption shoot up.
I installed a few applications and every one of them worked. Here is what I installed.
Adobe Acrobat Reader 8
1. Taskbar – The task bar now behaves like a dock – not there but almost. Application shortcuts can be pinned to the taskbar. There is no text this time, just icons. Every other opened application gets a new button on the taskbar and interestingly every open tab in applications that support tabs also get a button but are grouped. Hovering the mouse over the application revealed all tabs/windows of a particular application. Windows can be moved and closed right there. Nifty. I was able to right click on the IE icon on the taskbar and jump to one of my recently visited websites. Same kind of options called “Jump Lists” were available for other applications as well. The most nifty one being the jump list of Windows Explorer
2. Windows Explorer - The Windows explorer has been revamped. It now sports a clean and lean look. The key Win + E now opens an Explorer window with something called Library with icons for Documents, Movies, Pictures etc. This is more like opening the Home folder on linux. Still, I dont think Windows thought about putting this Library on a separate partition. Opening folders with large number of files or huge files were not a problem. It was a pain with Vista. Another improvement was copying huge number of files or large files. They were handled with ease unlike Vista
3. Internet Explorer - Internet Explorer 8 was available with this Beta and though I did not use it much I figured out something was wrong. IE used to show 99% of a file as downloaded and stay there forever without completing the download. I feel IE is still this is the weakest link in Windows 7 – or any other version for that matter.
4. Windows Media Player – Windows Media Player is still bloated. It took about 10 seconds to start. It was not able to play a 650 MB movie file without torturing the hard disk.
a. Shake to Minimize - Shaking a window by holding its title bar minimizes all the windows except the one which is being held
b. Shutdown – really shuts down and does not hibernate. Text has been added to show that it indeed shuts down. I am not sure if I am the first one to like this change.
c. Network Center - Is really fast compared to Vista. A few changes to graphics and that is it. I did not have a wi-fi connection to check how it performed.
d. Ribbon – The Ribbon interface has found its way to Paint and Wordpad from Office 2007
e. Media Center – Did not check much of this as I was never a fan of this application
f. Progress on Taskbar - The progress of a file being downloaded is now shown in the form of a progress bar on the IE icon in the taskbar. This feature has been available on Linux (GNOME) for a long time now. But it is not limited to just downloads. CD Burning, Copying files is included. I just hope other applications in Windows too implement this feature.
1. The show desktop button has been moved to the extreme right, even beyond the clock. I did not try to drag it to where I liked but in my opinion that is a very bad default position for an important action.
2. Bluetooth did not work. I tried to pair my Nokia N81 with my laptop but except for detecting it as a remote control device all the other device drivers failed to install.
3. Print Screen or Alt + Print Screen did not seem to work making capture of some controls like menus impossible without a third party too.
No review is complete without a bunch of screenshots
Head over here for a few
I can say two things for sure.
- Windows 7 Beta is far better than Windows Vista
- Windows 7 is no Linux killer