Windows 7 mini review

by davidnielsen

I got my hands on the Windows 7 RC 64 bit build, and having tried it for a while I have to say that for the most part I really like what Microsoft has done. Unlike Linux on this laptop it feels smooth, the audio settings are easy and works a charm for managing and testing 5.1 setups like my own.

I think Microsoft did good work, for an RC it is very stable and the only application I have found that doesn’t work unfortunately Google Chrome. I have though only used the OS for a few hours, more extensive testing will be needed to weed out all the little trouble spots but the initial presentation is very pleasant. 

I love the audio settings and testing, I hope Pulseaudio gets to a stage where we can universally offer such UI enabled testing and preferences. It’s really that easy and comfortable in use. It just works(tm).

The little UI enhancements are great, unlike Compiz which seems more focused on making things burn, beam up or worse these really make a difference in use. E.g. when you click and drag a window to the top your cursor gives a little sonar blip and the window border is shown expanding to fullscreen. It is those little things that make it pleasant to the eye and adds to the experience. A good UI should aid the user and explain functionality, Windows 7’s revision of Aero does this very well and it remains smooth while doing so. 

Much has been written on the new taskbar and I have to say it is the sexiest new UI design Microsoft has done in a while. Peek is excellent in use, it is a visually pleasing way to solve the problem of application launching and task listing. Something in my opinion that has yet to be done either in Linux or OS X. The one problem I have seen is that there is a tendency for dialogs to pop under which leads to missing them for a while. I am very impressed.

I do miss the ability from metacity (and other window managers to put a window “always on top”. I use this a lot when chatting with the webcam on while working, it is nice to be able to see the person I am talking to on skype (I use a rather complicated setup where I have msn for the webcam on the laptop but I use skype on my nokia n810).

All in all Windows 7 RC is a very solid OS, it performs very smoothly and feels good in use. Windows users will see this as a nice upgrade. They have applied some of their prior successes more extensively e.g. users will find the Ribbon toolbar from the last Office release in Wordpad.

Some might remember that I wasn’t at all fond of Vista at the same stage in the game, and as a someone who has used nothing but Linux for more than a decade I am not familiar with the “Windows experience” but Windows 7 strikes me as being a nice solid offering. I am very pleased that Microsoft decided to bring their A game, hopefully this will spur competition and innovation.