Windows 7 RC is (surprisingly) really great

I just upgraded my main home PC to Windows 7 RC and I have to say – against all odds – that less than an hour into the experience I’m already pretty much blown away. For one thing, I’m writing this entry the same night I got the idea to upgrade, and less than an hour after beginning the whole process. In fact, I think it took longer to download the iso than to do the upgrade. But what’s really amazing is how painless it was, and for once, everything just works – seriously, it’s like I’m on a Mac or something. By this I mean that I simply burned a copy of the iso, ran setup.exe, let it do its thing (no custom/advanced options required), it rebooted my PC twice, and when finished Windows 7 was humming along with drivers working for all of my hardware.

Keep in mind, I have a home-built PC with hardware RAID, relatively new sound and graphics cards, a very new wireless N USB adapter, and these were all detected seamlessly without me so much as selecting a driver, much less downloading or installing one. On first boot I was instantly prompted for which wireless N network I’d like to connect to, my desktop appeared in the expected 1920×1200 native resolution, and even the really little things that just never happened automatically – like detecting my actual LCD display brand and model instead of labeling it “Generic PnP Display” – are there. It even found my Brother multi-function printer/copier/scanner over the wireless network and installed a driver for it. I think the only things I was even prompted for where a user name, password, and my time zone.

Anyone who’s installed any other version of Windows on a non-trivial PC, from 3.1 up to and including Vista, knows the pain of loading RAID drivers from a floppy during install, figuring out how to get a wireless driver onto that PC without internet connectivity (always a blast), etc. – it’s become so ingrained in my thinking that I just considered it part of the custom-PC-Windows-install process. To be fair, Microsoft has always had to deal with an insane amount of hardware while Apple has exclusive control, and in that respect it’s been no surprise that a Mac install or upgrade is much less painful than Windows one. But it’s for that reason that I am really, really impressed that Windows 7 has come so far – and in an RC, no less. Who can remember the last time a Windows OS didn’t have major issues until SP 1 or 2?

The insanely enjoyable install aside, Windows 7 seems a lot slicker and streamlined than Vista did, borrowing much of the look and feel while losing much of the bloat. The little Windows quirks that Vista tried to make better – but often just overcomplicated – are much better, from the “simplified” control panel (which now has quick power-user links to many things like Device Manager built right into the main view) to the wireless icon in the system tray which allows quick one-click connecting to an available network, to the slightly new take on the taskbar and window preview/switching. Even IE 8 isn’t half bad – though not technically part of Windows 7, I figured I’d use it at least once to write this entry before downloading Chrome again. :) For a more complete list check out this summary.

It looks like all the pressure from Apple is making a difference, and for once I’m looking forward to installing the full version of the next Windows. Now I just hope they give us a reasonable upgrade price!

  1. #1 by Hassan on June 2, 2009 - 2:16 pm

    Could you please add some shots of Win 7 in this review.

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