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Windows 7 RC - a first look

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2009 12:56 pm    Post subject: Windows 7 RC - a first look Reply with quote

As I'm a curious person, I decided to participate in Microsoft's current RC testing. I'm more a Linux user (Using Linux since 1998 and the Gnome desktop since 2001) and the last Windows I was familiar with is Windows 2000, so all conditions were met for a "culture shock". But it wasn't that bad, after all...

Most surprisingly, the standard desktop that appears after an installation has some similarity with what I know from Gnome. What else do I like?

The system, though a release candidate, appears to be rock solid already. I tested the system recovery mode by messing up the partitions so that the system would no longer boot up. Indeed, the system was able to adjust the new partition infos and make the system bootable just without any interaction by me. Also, some system functions have finally become useful. For example, Windows 7 had no drivers for my Nvidia card, but was able to fetch them by itself, even working ones Wink. So the horror with picking up the right drivers and messing up one's registry in case something went wrong is gone. Another big plus is that AMD's cool'n'quite CPU feature is supported out of the box, just like it's been case on Linux for a while. This practically means, if your CPU fan is PWM controlled, it won't make much noise unless the computing power is actually needed. IE8 is a surprisingly good browser in my opinion when it comes to standard compliance. All the sites I'm maintaining come up just exactly the way they were intended and do in other recent browsers.

But where's light, there's also shadow:
I find the system a bit too "user friendly". Sadly, the "nanny mode" cannot be adjusted according to one's experience which means that changing system settings can become quite a challenge, because you have to go through all those long-winded descriptions. I also disliked the absence of any network configuration dialogue during setup, which resulted in the setup endlessly probing for an non-existent DHCP server, until I could correct the settings and deactivate unnecessary options.

Also there's the contradiction between Windows offering to integrate separate partitions in the basic directory tree (which is the usual way it works on Unix-like operation systems, including MacOs X) and defaulting to the dos-like letter drives. I do like the separate boot partition, but why not make it consistent as a whole? This way, one could mount one's user directory as a separate partition and keep one's settings in case a reinstall is due. With the current mix-up, however, you'll need to manually adjust all those default directories and as a result you'll get quite a mess.

I think, MediaPlayer 12 is plain horrible when it comes to do simple tasks like connecting to a streaming server. There does not seem to exist a simple dialogue or button to do just this. I finally gave up and opted to install Winamp instead - problem solved Wink. Again, this is the result of the "nanny mode" overkill and several modes (beginners, advanced, freaks...) could help make Windows a lot more user friendly, just for anyone.

I'm not quite ready for a final conclusion yet. I'll leave it running for a couple of months, get more familiar with it and perhaps witness some improvements, just as the RC get's updated.

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