(This is a detailed review of Windows 7 – Microsoft’s next big OS release. If you just want to know if you should buy it or not… you should jump right to the end for the conclusion.)
The biggest event in the technology world is, and has always been since the advent of Windows 95, Microsoft releasing a new version of Windows. (Apart from Steve Jobs developing an ingrown toenail etc.) Most of my generation can timeline their lives according to corresponding releases of operating systems from Microsoft. 1993, my first PC with Win 3.1; 1996, my first “real” PC (a Compaq, the first in my building and my pride and joy); 1999, my first serious work PC with Windows NT when I first learnt about services and such; 2000, my first computing mistake with that weird thing called Windows Millenium Edition; 2002, the first time I had an antidote for my Mac envy with Windows XP and a service pack every year hence until; 2006, my respect for Microsoft hit’s an all time low when they tried to give us tremendously shallow reasons to let go of Windows XP SP3 (the most stable and secure Windows OS yet), with Vista. Vista, soon became the poster-child of how a monopoly can undo itself in one fell swoop. Right from performance issues to a convoluted interface (just try to setup a network) to terrible pricing options (Vista Ultimate?!!) – Vista was an example of bad Product Management from the word go. MS did try to salvage some pride with SP1 – but by then it was too late and the verdict was clear – organizations were not about to give up on Windows XP for the Aero interface (probably the only thing I like about Vista… but hey, a few tweaks and an XP system can look as good!).
So, when last year, word came of a new Windows version being developed from “ground up” – it was followed by a collective sigh of relief. Deftly marketed at the last Consumer Electronics Show – along with the cool touch interface – Windows “7” as they call it, has had a positive chatter about it since the early betas. Sure enough, Grimescene has tracked the progress since the initial releases, and seen MS correcting a lot of the issues inherent to Vista – while taking the visual direction to higher, more cleaner plane. I allowed the various more jobless people on the internet to test and comment on the betas… until finally Microsoft announced the public release of Windows 7 Build 7100 in early May 2009. This was meant to be a “Release Candidate” – basically a stable system with most of the features and functionality of the final system that would go into production soon. I downloaded it, and installed it and documented here, is my experience so far.
1) Installation: 9/10
In one word – Breezy. Booted from the DVD-ROM on my Compaq Dual Core system with an Intel G33 chipset. After selecting the right partition for install, it pretty much took over the installation – until I was asked to put in my temporary serial number provided by MS (valid till March 2010). So after around 28 minutes I was staring at the login screen of my brand new Windows 7 system. I logged in, and voila – every driver was detected and installed correctly and basically the system was ready to be used. Brilliant.
2) The graphical interface: 8/10
Now this is where most of us will spend most of our time – so how does the Windows 7 interface fare? Very clean. I had always liked the transclusent Aero interface of Vista – and Windows 7 only makes it better. Here are a few screenshots:
The Desktop – featuring a wider task bar, a clean start button, collapsible system tray and a limited number of widgets like clock, calendar, RSS Feeds etc. on the side bar.