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Hi, This is Wayne. This is my site, my stuff, my blog, blahblahblah. The site itself is powered by WordPress and the Scary Little theme. I thought it was cool, and I still do.

This past weekend, I bit the bullet and installed Windows 7 BETA on my work laptop, replacing Vista.  This is pretty big, given that at work we’re still standardized on Windows XP.  My move to Vista last year was an important leap of faith as it was, so going to Windows 7 (aka W7) marks an even more risky foray into the world of Microsoft Operating Systems.  And going with beta makes it risk combined with cavalier abandon.

I have survived.

And it’s been pretty fun.

Here are some of the things I’ve noticed so far that are worth mentioning.  I should point out that some of these may have been there in Vista and I just never noticed them.

To save on front page space, the rest is in the extended entry.

Multiple default printers

When I’m at home, my default printer is [X]. When I’m at work, my default printer is [Y].  This is just so common sense I can’t believe I’m happy about it showing up in 2009.  But it really is COOL.

It was nice for W7 to actually ask me what I wanted to do when I was adding the printer the first time.  It’s also nice that I can just bring up the start menu, type in “default printer” and it knows what I’m trying to do.

The thing is super fast

I put my laptop specs down at the bottom, and YES, I realize I have a nice laptop.  I originally had XP on it but when I switched to Vista almost a year ago, I noticed Vista to be faster.  In general.

The person who recommended W7 to me said that W7 was even faster than Vista.  I’ve found that to be quite correct.

However, I have to point out that I installed the 64-bit version of Windows 7, but I only had the 32-bit version of Vista before.  I can’t determine how much of my speed increase was due to each of three factors:

1) A reinstall / purge
Starting over on any machine that’s been used for a while is bound to get a performance increase because of all the stuff you’ve loaded up over that time.

2) Windows 7 over Vista
All I have going for this is that I’ve heard it’s faster.  I have no empirical data.  I don’t even have an empire.  Me so sad.

3) 64bit vs 32bit
My gut feel is that this is probably the biggest reason for the performance increase, although I also have no empirical data.  According to Geekbench, 64bit Vista is about 10% faster than 32bit Vista, all else being equal.

So, maybe each of the three had their input into the net result – all I know is that it feels twice as fast.  Windows pop up almost like they’d been expecting my click. Maybe the government is just watching me.

Improved boot video

[youtube j7oDvY1-XeY]

You’d think posting about the animation used when a system boots is the epitome of “has he run out of things to blog about?”  But no.  It is pretty cool.  Kind of like some light energy bugs are converging and becoming the Vista/7 logo.

I think first impressions are important.  That’s why when I meet people I give them a lot of money.  I have so many friends!

Snipping tool is cool

I’ve been a power user of SnagIt from TechSmith for close to 7 years.  It’s one of the few tools I make sure I install as soon as I get on a machine.

When I googled for any issues (I do this on almost all my installs of a new OS – find out if someone else has broken their machine by installing [X] software on [Y] OS) I saw a few things about the snipping tool that comes built-in to W7.

I also found out that it came with Vista.  Huh.  Go Figure.

Anyway, you can just Start Menu, type in “snip” and select the Snipping Tool and away you go – select a portion of the screen and it brings up a quick editor that you can annotate (very little), copy to clipboard, etc.

Apple’s OS X has had this for a while, and I think it’s great Microsoft has added it.

Still doesn’t hold a candle to SnagIt.  However, it’s nice to know I have it available when I’m visiting someone else’s computer.

“Send Feedback” feature

I really like how, just about everywhere you go, there’s the ability to “send feedback” to Microsoft on windows and features.  It allows you to rate your experience 1-7 stars, categorize your input, and tell what you like and don’t like.  This is surely just a “beta” feature but how cool would it be to be able to turn on “user feedback mode” on not only your operating system but also your applications?

I use it 5-10 times per day.

Now, if we could get that feature on the government…

More sensible backups

Chalk this up as another “maybe this was there before but I didn’t notice it” type of feature.

I plugged in a 500GB USB drive and in the AutoPlay window that popped up, I saw the option to “use this drive as a backup.”  This reminded me of the OS X Time Machine start-up ability (except that Apple recommends that the drive be dedicated to Time Machine, which I don’t like).

You can specify more schedule options (which is nice) and the backup more or less happens in the background (which is nice).  But it didn’t tell me how long it would take, and it still just isn’t as good as Time Machine in the “I have you covered” area.

For example, onApple’s  Time Machine, the default is to “snapshot” or make recoverable each hour from the last 24 hours, each day for the last week, etc.  It’s sensible.  I wish we had that for Windows.  It’s just smarter.

In fact, I wish it would extend not only to other media, but online backup as well.  I should be able to point to FTP or other protocol-enabled storage sources and have it just Do The Right Thing™.

Still, Windows improved in this area quite a bit.  Kudo’s, Microsoft.

The Issues

And here are a few issues I’ve ran into.

SharePoint on IE8

Most everything seems to work ok, but I use datasheet mode on SharePoint all the time.  Think of using Excel or Numbers (spreadsheet) but interactive, on the web, and sharable by multiple people simultaneously.  That’s a great feature of SharePoint, and it’s called datasheet view.

One of the cool things you can do in datasheet view is highlight some cells, and drag the auto-fill part of the selected area to other empty cells.  This either copies their data or intelligently alters them.  For example, if you have a series of dates, highlight 2 or 3 of them and then drag the autofill down and it increments the dates.

This just doesn’t work in Internet Explorer 8, and it’s killing me!

Other IE8 issues

I’ve noticed many sites don’t work, but that’s ok.  evite.com, anything with flash, etc.  So I just use FireFox 3.x which seems to work great.

I’m also impressed that Roboform works with firefox now (and IE8) so I’m able to auto-fill things with either browser.  Sweet!

Applications I’ve installed so far

Here are the apps I’ve installed with little or no issue so far on my  Windows 7 64-bit laptop:

  • Office 2007
  • Firefox 3.0
  • Adobe Reader 9.0
  • Roboform
  • CanoScan Toolbox (for my Canon LIDE 60 scanner)
  • FeedDemon / FeedStation
  • Office Live Meeting 2007
  • Office Live Meeting 2007 add-ins for Outlook
  • Picasa 3 (there are special backup/restore steps for this)
  • Putty v0.60
  • Snagit 9.1.1
  • TreeSize Free v2.2.1
  • Trillian Pro 3.1
  • TweetDeck (with Adobe AIR)
  • VMWare Infrastructure Client 2.5.0.64227
  • Weather Channel Desktop (came with something… I forget which.  Maybe Trillian?)
  • VIM 7.2 (with gvim)
  • UPDATE: Trend Micro OfficeScan v8.0 64-bit edition (MSI-based install)

Laptop Specs:

Dell Latitude D630
Duo-core 2.00Ghz cpu
3GB RAM / 250GB 7200 rpm hard drive

And lo, the people did comment thus:

15 Comments

  1. Karl says:

    Roboform has been working with Firefox for a long time. I’ve used it for years without a hitch. You’re a brave man, installing a beta OS. Still, it’s good to hear the review. Perhaps Windows 7 is everything that Vista SHOULD have been.

    Karl´s last blog post..Shuffle It Up

    • whall says:

      Karl – re: “should have been”; many people have categorized it as such. I can’t disagree. Then again, when comparing Vista/Microsoft to OS X/Apple, people usually forget that the HW Apples come with are typically massively “better” than the typical PC, so the OS suffers a bit. If those MS bashers used similar HW, it’d be a more believable critique.

  2. Penelope says:

    This was really interesting. I work for a MS Gold Partner and so we get heaps of free MS stuff. My boss wants someone to be the dummy and try out W7 so thought I might. I have a Vista laptop now (have loved the snipping took for a while) and was curious to see if W7 would fit well. My laptop spec is similar to yours so I think I’ll be brave and give it a go!

    Penelope´s last blog post..Adjusting.

  3. Penelope says:

    Obviously I meant “tool” not “took” Ugh!

    Penelope´s last blog post..Adjusting.

  4. Sybil Law says:

    That’s it – I demand that someone give Whall his own empire RIGHT NOW!

    Sybil Law´s last blog post..Damn I Love Myself!

  5. martymankins says:

    As I mentioned on Twitter, I’ve got the Windows 7 beta (32-bit only), burned on DVD and ready to go, but haven’t pulled the trigger yet. I would be installing it as a virtual machine under VMware Fusion, but it would be nice to have a PC capable of installing it on (none of the PCs at work may qualify – the newest one is 3 years old – yeah, behind the times). Would like to see the Aero interface in action.

    martymankins´s last blog post..Snowy Sunday #13

  6. Giggle Pixie says:

    You are so brave! But I’m tempted to follow suit, becuase I am a geek and I just want to see if it’s really better, as they say.

    Giggle Pixie´s last blog post..You Know What They Say About Buddies…

  7. So basically what you’re trying to tell us is that you’re brave? Meaning if I were stung by a jellyfish and you were next to me, you’d be willing to do what it takes to save me?

    BlondeBlogger´s last blog post..Well Baby I’m a Put-On-A-Show Kind of Girl

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