Posted by Fred Wu
When Windows Vista was first released, I was disgusted by its bugs and general unstableness. I mean, copying only a few hundreds of files causing memory overflow was seriously not cool, not to mention the awkward software and hardware compatibility at that time. Windows Vista, when it was first released, was a beta software at best.
Things have been improved since then. I know quite a few people who are happily using Vista without any glitches. For the others including myself, it was too little too late. Some people chose to downgrade to XP, and I chose to fully migrate to OS X.
This is not a post about OS X vs Windows though.
It’s all about Windows.
Microsoft did not stop advertising Windows Vista or start pushing the development of Windows 7 without good reasons. And I can see why.
People say Windows 7 should really be called Windows Vista SP2/SP3, well, I agree to some extent. However, Microsoft is known to be aggressive in marketing, and there is no way they’ll stick to the already damaged product name. Windows 7, a very uninspiring name, but at the end of the day, it’s not the name that matters, it’s the image that drives, shines and glows the name.
My Windows days are pretty much long gone. I do sometimes fire up my quad core, 4GB RAM desktop computer to do some trivia things (like watch digital TV on the TV tuner, etc), but I can live without them. The desktop computer has Windows XP SP2 on it, and in general I am happy with it.
As a web developer who uses OS X as the main system, I obviously need a Windows system somewhere for testing web pages in the good ‘ol IE6 and IE7 (and soon IE8). At work I use Parallels, and at home I use VMWare Fusion, they are both great products.
A couple of days ago I installed the latest version of Windows Vista (SP1 with streamlined updates) in VMWare Fusion. I installed it on my main computer, which is a 2.4Ghz, 4GB RAM Macbook Pro, hooked up with a 20″ LCD monitor. I gave the guest system 2 cores and 2GB RAM, it ran okay, sluggish at times but it was definitely better than when Vista was first released.
Today, out of curiosity, I installed Windows 7 Build 6801. My first impression is: it’s fast! Obviously with a fancier GUI it won’t be faster than Windows XP, but it surely kicked Vista left to right! Kudos to the Microsoft engineers who worked hard to fix, tweak and improve the underlying architecture that powers Windows Vista/7.
I’m not sure if it’s a pre-beta thing, but by default there are no gadgets on the desktop, hooray! Back then the first thing I do when I installed Vista, was to turn the damn sidebar off!
Another welcoming change is the UAC (User Access Control). I know Windows engineers are trying to improve their system’s security, but in my humble opinion, UAC is a complete failure – it annoys users more often than it helps them. Now, in Windows 7, we can finally turn if off easily, without a reboot in order to take the effect of changes. :) (update: I was wrong, it still needs a reboot to take the effect of changes.) But even so, I still prefer the UAC to just die peacefully. I mean, look at Linux, BSD and OSX, these *nix based systems have similar security measurement in place for years, I don’t see why Redmond have failed to just be a copycat. Instead, they chose to be ‘creative’ and make the system far worse.
The enhanced task bar is also good. We can now manage the icons a bit better and less clustered.
One minor issue I noticed during my short experiment with Windows 7, is that the Windows Firewall thinks of itself as the king. If you turn it off, a balloon will pop out of the task bar, and if you click on the balloon (which tells you the Firewall is turned off), it automatically re-enables it! Doh! (But yes, you can turn the firewall off by not clicking on the balloon itself. Click on the ‘X’ or just ignore it instead.)
Overall though, I am quite impressed with Windows 7, even if it’s only a pre-beta and doesn’t have much to offer in terms of features (or eye-candies).
Now please Microsoft, I beg you to stop wasting your $ on the marketing campain…