Friday, October 9, 2009

A Sneak Peek at Windows 7

I am not normally an early adopter of Microsoft Operating systems but I guess this time, curiosity had the better of me. Also, I won a full version of Windows 7 Ultimate at Microsoft NZ TechEd 2009, so that kind of nudged me more into using it.

This report is more on what I have read and so far experienced in Windows 7 Ultimate.

Windows 7, as many call it, is what Windows Vista was meant to be. Microsoft really went back to the drawing board and looked at all the aspects of Vista that people disliked and improved on it. I guess one of their motivations of doing this was the fact that Vista was the one Microsoft operating system that hardly penetrated the user market and was the biggest flop, to put it lightly. But kudos to Microsoft, they have done quite a lot of work around improving their OS and Windows 7 shines with the brightness of the heavens.

1. To Upgrade or to install fresh?
The upgrade path is only from Windows Vista to Windows 7. If you are running anything earlier than Windows Vista, I am sorry but you are out of luck if you are thinking of upgrading. I think this is because of the whole kernel revamp that was noticed in Windows Vista, and which has carried on to Windows 7 (Windows 7 uses a newer security and kernel architecture and this means that it has shunned the older legacy archictecture that was used in Windows XP. This makes it more secure, but also means that it breaks all those legacy programs that you were meant to upgrade, but just never got the time to get around to). There are some advantages of installing fresh as opposed to upgrading. One of them being that you dont carry the rubbish you have accumulated over to the new operating system. But then upgrading does take off the hassle of having to reinstall everything all over again. I have tried both and I must say, upgrade is so much better. Just keep a note that most of the computers sold after June 23rd this year come with a free upgrade to Windows 7 sticker. I tried using this path but I found it hard to digest the fact that just to get the dvds, it would cost me $US19.95!!

2. Which platform architecture should I get.
Windows 7 comes in two flavors. 32 and 64bit (just saw some literature on the internet that said that Windows 8 and Windows 9 might support 128 bit OS!!). One of the main reasons for choosing one or the other is your hardware and your software base. 32 bit OS means that there is an upper limit to what physical memory can be addressed by the OS, which sort of shys away just before 4GB (3.6GB is what it can see I think). 64bit allows you to see 4GB and more. The next thing to look at is all your current software and if they will be able to run on 64bit if you are going to take that path. 64bit does run 32bit software in a 32bit bubble so that might allow you to run your legacy programs while a 64bit version of it gets released.

3. AeroSnap
AeroSnap is a new feature of Windows 7 that allows you to compare two screens side by side. And it makes it very easy to do this. All you do is take one screen and move it to left and as you are moving it, like a magnet, it is pulled to the left hand side of the screen and "snaps" in, thereby taking the left half of the screen. Move the other screen to the right the same way and it will snap into place.

4. AeroPeek
This is the Windows 7 version of Show Desktop. In Windows 7, on the Task Bar, at the far right, you will see a small rectangle. If you hover the mouse pointer over this, it will replace all the open screens with a transparent white border, thereby showing you the desktop. Windows 7 has done away with the Side Bar that was present in Windows Vista. You can dock gadgets on the desktop and using this "Show desktop" feature, see them.

5. AeroShake
If you shake the current application, it will minimise all the other windows except that for the application that you currently have the focus on. Neat aye. Guess we are entering the age of natural movements in operating systems, a path started by the iphone revolution (might be wrong so dont quote me on this) which allowed one to communicate with their phone using the natural action of touching.

6. Windows XP Mode.
This is only available in Windows 7 Ultimate and allows you to have a preinstalled Windows XP virtual PC in Windows 7 which you can use to run those stubborn programs that just wont run on the new architecture of Windows 7.

There are numerous other features that have been added to Windows 7. If you would like to get a detailed look at all those, please visit the official Windows 7 website.

Have fun and all the best. As for me, I am actually loving my Windows 7 install.

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