Windows 7 64 Bit Release Candidate Experience

Overview

I heard good reviews about Windows 7 and with the nature of the Internet there was no way of avoiding the news coming out about it. I was on Windows Vista Ultimate for over a year and started to get sluggish and needed a fresh start. I was faced with the decision of going back to XP because it did not hog all my resources but then it lacks some of the good benefits of Vista such as memeory management. Windows 7 was also available in Release Candidate (RC) form and Microsoft has said it will be free for a year. With this in mind I chose Windows 7. This is by no means a comprehensive review but things I picked up on.

Step 1. Backup

I started the arduous task of backing things up. I would have had to do this with any version of Windows I was going to but it took a long time because I have had it for over a year collecting digital rubbish all over the place. This took well over 2 – 3 days to do and make sure I haven’t left anything. Thanks to “cloud computing” there was a second layer of backup incase I forget something. So I ran my trusting JungleDisk on all my “buckets” before I blew my Windows install away.

Step 2. Download Windows 7

Whilst I was cleaning up my computer I headed over to http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/ to download Windows and get my serial keys. There is no limit to the amount of keys you can get and I went through the process twice to get 32 and 64 bit editions.

Step 3. Double & Triple Check Backups

There’s nothing worse than losing something so always check you have everything. Once all my backups were done I left it for a day (at least) as my rule of thumb and go about my daily routine. As the day goes on I check to make sure I have backed up things that I run or come across in my day.

Step 4. Create Install DVD

Windows 7 needs to be burnt onto a DVD from the ISO file. The ISO file iteself is like a clone of the DVD of what is on the DVD. Once done browse through the DVD randomly and check the DVD looks OK and no errors pop up. This is a simple method of checking the DVD for a bad burn but by no means a comprehensive one.

Step 5. Install

Before I go into the install process I insert the DVD (if not done so already) and disconnect all drives except the root / C:\ hard drive to make sure I don’t install it on the wrong drive. The drives can be plugged in after the install and be used as storage in Windows once it’s up and running.

Fire up the computer and boot from the DVD drive. The best thing about Windows 7 is that it only asks you a few questions, installs and then boots straight into the welcome / first setup screen. I do not know how long it took because I left it running and left but one problem did occur after it had installed. The computer went into standby and my mouse and keyboard would not wake it up. I hard reset the machine and it rebooted into the first time set up screen.

Setup For The First Time

The setup for Windows 7 asked for the login details of the admin account. On this screen my Logitech MX Revolution mouse failed to move but I unplugged it and plugged it back in and it recognised it. The keyboard had no such problems.

Once setup the machine goes straight to the desktop ready for use.

Evaluation copy

Windows 7 Watermark

Microsoft has put this annoying watermark on the bottom right hand side of the desktop wallpaper stating the fact it’s a test version still. Why? I have not found a way to turn it off or hide it yet.

Program Files Or Program Files (x86)

I’m not sure why these two folders exists but I think “Program Files” is for programs in naitive 64 bit and “Program Files (x86)” is for 32 bit applications. This is an oddity that I don’t get and not sure if it exists in the 32 bit version. I left it as is and Windows seems to be able to detect which goes into which most of the time.

64 Bit in a 32 Bit World

Windows 7 Task Manager

This is the first time I will be using a 64 bit Operating System (OS) as my main machine but hopefully it will go well. I do hope to get more than 2GB RAM but it seems there can be a lot of problems still trying to break the 3GB barrier with RAM and motherboard compatibility. This will come later.

I like the fact that the task manager puts a suffix to programs running in 32 bit but it also shows you just how many programs still do not have a 64 bit version. If only Microsoft would force people for Windows 7 to do so and stop the support of XP. 32 bit applications do run in 64 bit but the Drivers must be in 64 bit to run as far as I’m aware.

Windows Media Player

WMP still seams to plagued by the not properly terminating bug. I noticed this in Vista but have seen people report that it happened in XP too. This happens when you start Windows Media Player, do your thing and close it only to find the process still exists.

Performance

Many people have said the performance is a lot better and I’m another person saying the same thing. It uses less RAM and I can run multiple applications including Eve-Online with no difficulties. I have yet to try any “proper” games yet.

UI Tweaks

Windows 7 Taskbar Preview

There are some nice UI tweaks like the taskbar is not using an icon system similar to the Mac OSX. The difference between an application running and not running is not as clearly identifiable compared to the Mac but the preview on hover more than makes up for it. The preview is in real time so any video or animation happening within the program will be shown at the same time.

Windows 7 Taskbar Preview 2

Windows 7 also has a docking feature where you can drag a window to an edge on the screen and it will dock it as if it was a side bar for left and right side and maximize if docked to the top of the screen. What makes this feature useful is the lack of “always ontop” mode or making other windows to resize around the dock as if it was a side bar.

Windows 7 Docked Window

The application switching has remained the same from Windows Vista.

Aero Effects

The effects remains largely the same as Vista.

Summary

Overall I am impressed with the improvements Microsoft has made to the OS. It’s surprising that underlying engine is what Vista uses because in performance terms it’s so much faster.

The Release Candidate still has some bugs like my computer has problems hibernating and sleeping. The Windows Update notification only states postponement time but no message what time it will automatically reboot. I have left my computer and found that it had rebooted.

I would recommend Windows 7 over Vista.

Windows 7 Website

About Danny

I.T software professional always studying and applying the knowledge gained and one way of doing this is to blog. Danny also has participates in a part time project called Energy@Home [http://code.google.com/p/energyathome/] for monitoring energy usage on a premise. Dedicated to I.T since studying pure Information Technology since the age of 16, Danny Tsang working in the field that he has aimed for since leaving school. View all posts by Danny → This entry was posted in Review, Windows and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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