Ezine 172 – Guy’s Thoughts on Microsoft’s Release of Windows 7 in October

Guy’s Thoughts on Microsoft’s Release of Windows 7 in OctoberReview of Microsoft Windows Version 7

I want to give you an independent view of the new Windows 7 operating system.  Rather than regurgitating a list of features, 80% of which you won’t use, I want to concentrate on what it’s like actually working with Windows 7 compared with Vista or XP.  Incidentally, my MSDN subscription allowed me to download an RTM* copy of Windows 7 two months before it goes on sale to the public.
* RTM (Release to Manufacturers)

Windows 7 – A Polished Performer

I have to say that compared with Vista, Windows 7 feels as though every component has been stripped down and polished.  Moreover, as the menus were bolted back together, it seems as though Microsoft’s technicians give them an extra dollop of intelligence.  As a result Windows 7 performs as my capable assistant, whereas Vista acted like my unsympathetic boss.

To take the new Taskbar as an example, when an icon glows this indicates subtly that its application is open, furthermore, the documents stack behind their program thus conserving space on this bar at the bottom of the screen.  It took me less than half an hour to adjust to this more intelligent behavior.  Yet, some people ‘take against’ the new way, and they try to recreate the old XP Taskbar, the resulting dog’s breakfast represents the worst of both Windows 7 and XP.  My advice is – adapt to the new Taskbar.

Upgrading from Vista

For a server I would always recommend a clean install, but for a Vista client it seemed tempting to avoid the hassle of transferring all my settings and just upgrade the existing operating system. My test machines (one laptop and one desktop), were each running Vista, and I have to say this was the smoothest in-place upgrade that I have ever done. Incidentally, it seems there is no direct upgrade path from XP to Windows 7, thus a fresh installation would be required in that situation.

However, there have been severe problems for a few people attempting this in-place upgrade from Vista to Windows 7.  On the one hand it’s disappointing that Microsoft has not corrected these compatibility problems given that they emerged during beta testing.  On the other hand, upgrade’s notorious glitch in hanging at 62% complete only affects a few well documented hardware components.  To keep this glitch in perspective the worst case scenario is upgrade rolls back gracefully, and you carry on with a fresh install, which is no bad thing.

It’s not easy to see if this upgrade problem affects 10% or 0.0001% of all attempts.  A more general question is what percentage of all hardware combinations can we reasonable expect Microsoft to test?  After all, they do produce a very good free Windows 7 upgrade advisor which I found both a joy to use and remarkably accurate with its conclusions.

64-Bit Hardware Performance and Compatibility

Windows 7 is the first operating system that does not require more memory (1 GB 32-bit, 2 GB 64-bit), or a faster processor (1 Ghz) than its predecessor.  Even so, installing a new operating system such as Windows 7 or Vista presents a golden opportunity to buy new hardware.  If you are purchasing new kit in 2009 then it seems logical to choose a 64-bit processor rather than a 32-bit version.  However, I have been underwhelmed by my new 64-bit system, and this is quite independent of Vista or Windows 7.  To me Office 2007 does not seem to any run faster on my 64-bit hardware (Benchmarks say 10% better).  Worse than that, Office 2007 seems to hang and crash much more than Office 2003 did on a 32-bit operating system.

The most annoying problem that I faced was down to Cannon, they could not be bothered to make a 64-bit driver, consequently, I had to throw out a perfectly good scanner.  Admittedly my new scanner really is faster, and it cost less, but I was happy with its predecessor.  Overall I have no clever conclusion.  Other than sticking with my ancient 32-bit kit, I cannot see what else I could have done, it just does not seem right to buy 32-processors in 2009.

Cam Ferguson points out that Windows 7 is designed take advantage of 64-bit dual and quad processors.  Guy says what you find with Windows 7 is that everyone is passionate about a different new feature.  This makes a change from Vista where everyone was moaning about a different new behavior.

Guy Recommends an Upgrade to Windows 7

If you currently have Vista, then I would unreservedly recommend an upgrade to Window 7.  Also if you have XP, then I believe that the time is ripe to swerve Vista and upgrade to Windows 7.

Let us imagine an old see-saw with Vista on one end and XP on the other.  Setting aside the question of cost, I see that the productivity and security advantages of upgrading from XP to Vista, are counterbalanced by the teething problems with Vista.  Now imagine a new see-saw, this time with Windows 7 against XP, in my opinion the balance has swung firmly away from XP, and towards Windows 7.

But it’s your decision, and it much depends on what your motives were for resisting Vista.  What I can bring to the debate is how much smoother Windows 7 runs compared with Vista.  For example, when my Vista laptop went into sleep mode, it was always touch and go if it would wake-up gracefully, or whether I had to resort to power-off, power-on.  With Windows 7 I have experienced no such problems.  Also my Windows 7 does not hang when I search in Windows Explorer as Vista did.  In addition Windows 7 brings zillions of other tiny improvements, which make me think, ‘I am working smart’, and ‘now I am operating efficiently’.  In Vista my thoughts were, ‘I will cope, I will get the job done despite your cranky ways’.  See Windows 8 install.

Guy Recommends:  A Free Trial of the Orion Network Performance Monitor (NPM) v12Review of Orion NPM v12

SolarWinds’ network performance monitor will help you discover what’s happening on your network.  This utility will also guide you through troubleshooting; the dashboard will indicate whether the root cause is a broken link, faulty equipment or resource overload.  Because it produces network-centric views, the NPM is intuitive to navigate, and you can export the results to Microsoft Visio.

Perhaps Orion’s best feature is the way it suggests solutions.  Moreover, if problems arise out of the blue, then you can configure Orion NPM v12 to notify members of your team what’s changed and how to fix it.

If you are interested in troubleshooting, and creating network maps, then give NPM a try.

Download a free trial of Orion’s Network Performance Monitor.

Guy Recommends: Tools4ever’s UMRAUMRA The User Management Resource Administrator

Tired of writing scripts? The User Management Resource Administrator solution by Tools4ever offers an alternative to time-consuming manual processes.

It features 100% auto provisioning, Helpdesk Delegation, Connectors to more than 130 systems/applications, Workflow Management, Self Service and many other benefits. Click on the link for more information onUMRA.

Will and Guy’s Humour – Cost an Arm and a Leg?

In George Washington’s days, there were no cameras. One’s image was either sculpted or painted. Some paintings of George Washington showed him standing behind a desk with one arm behind his back while others showed both legs and both arms. Prices charged by painters were not based on how many people were to be painted, but by how many limbs were to be painted. Arms and legs are ‘limbs,’ therefore painting them would cost the buyer more. Artists know hands and arms are more difficult to paint.

Hence the expression, ‘Okay, but it’ll cost you an arm and a leg.’

If you are interested in more historical truths check out this page.

Windows 8 Features:

Windows 8 New Features   • Windows 8 Metro UI  • Windows 8 Tips  • Windows 8 FAQ  • Ezines

Free Netflow Traffic Analyzer  • Windows 8 Home  • E 179 Hide Accounts  • E 187 Easy Transfer

E 186 Deprecated  • E 184 Windows Phone  • E 180 Godmode • Orion IP SLA Manager Download