Windows 7: A First Impression

So, I went out and actually purchased a copy of Windows 7.  This is my first operating system purchase ever.  I’ve bought computers with Windows on them, but I’ve never bought a copy of Windows for installation to my computer.

The reason?  Games.  I have a bunch of games that REFUSE to work in Wine and also won’t work well in a virtual machine.  Also, the Winter Olympics are coming up, and I wanted to be able to watch my favorite sports when I want, where I want.  Silverlight is required to run the internet video, and I wanted to have everything set when the games started.

It took me a couple of tries to install it, as I wasn’t doing it the “windows way”.

Tries 1, 2 and 3

I repartition using my Ubuntu disk, restart with Win7 inserted, and the Windows Installer starts up.  I attempt to install to the partition I’ve carved out of my /home directory and formatted and I got an error saying that Windows couldn’t figure out what to do with the partition.  I reformatted it several times, and decided that it wouldn’t work my way, so I’d have to partition again and install.  Argh.  The frustration level rises.

Try 4

Ok, so I repartition and finally get things set up to install.  The install process itself isn’t too bad.  If you’re not careful, Windows will take over your entire hard drive.  Since I’d already partitioned, I picked the first partition on my hard drive and let it go.

Like I said before, the actual install process isn’t bad.  You go through the whole authentication process that’s standard for Windows, and once you’re done, you have a desktop.  It’s pretty basic.

I had to find and install all of my hardware drivers.  This was a pain, as drivers had been updated to work with Win7, but were not all on the System76 website.  Many of the Vista drivers worked just fine, but I had to still find nVidia drivers, touchpad drivers (so I’d have the scroll area), LAN drivers, and camera drivers.  Most of these were found through the device manager, but I still had to find and install some drivers from the net.  Oddly enough, my wireless card was automagically detected, but my LAN wasn’t.  Strange.

Once I got my graphics drivers and rebooted, I had access to some of the Aero effects.  All I can say is, “wow”.  Microsoft seems to have gotten something right with this.  The transparency is great.  It’s not Compiz, but then again, nothing really approaches the flexibility and power of Compiz.

Installation of Programs

Now I had to go about installing my programs:

  • Flock
  • Firefox
  • OpenOffice
  • Some sort of Twitter/Status.net client (I chose MahTweets; review pending in a future post.)
  • Microsoft Security Essentials (Microsoft’s antivirus program.  Works really, really well and stays the heck out of my way, like a antivirus program should)
  • Wakoopa
  • Pidgin
  • Snarl (Popup program that supports several apps; better than guifications and fits in well with Win7.)
  • Songbird
  • Foobar2000 (Upon high recommendations from my brother, I decided to try this out. It’s not bad, but I totally prefer Rhythmbox. Heh.)
  • Flash support in Flock and Firefox
  • VLC
  • Games: Baulder’s Gate 2, Sims2, SimCity4, and Diablo 2.  They all work. Yahoo!

I still think I should do something with Hulu.  I haven’t tried out the Windows media center stuff yet.

Thoughts so Far

I’d have to say this is one of the best versions of Windows I’ve used.  I’ve used everything except ME and Vista (3.1, 95, 98, 2000, and XP).  This is a MAJOR upgrade from XP.  I really thought XP was the be-all-end-all of Windows systems, as it was an industry standard.  It had decent performance, clean lines, and a decent start menu setup.

Ah, the start menu.  I have not gotten used to it.  I can’t quite grasp the way it works.  Maybe I’m dumb, but I really, really, really liked how XP did it, as well as how Ubuntu does it with the menu bar.  I can easily find what I’m looking for, barring an unruly app that decides to insert itself into a non-conforming category.

UAC isn’t too much of a pain.  I’m still running as an administrator, so I should probably start up a root account and do some tweaking of my regular account.  That’s for next week.

The whole Aero thing works well.  The windows look very nice, especially after installing the correct drivers.  Windows 7 wouldn’t be the same without the Aero effects.

~~~~~~~~

All-in-all?  Windows 7 is a decent operating system.  I’ve only used it for about two days, but I like it so far.  It is nowhere near as flexible or easy to use as Ubuntu.  Installing codecs (including Silverlight, Flash, Java, etc) was very easy.  There’s still the “search, download, install” method of getting software, which I don’t particularly like.  Can you tell that I’m a Linux fan?  I really like the idea of a package manager.

Anyway, I’d say Windows 7 comes to a 3.5/5.  The reasons why include: overly difficult install prep and not playing nice with my Ubuntu install, search and download process of driver installation, the start menu changes, UAC (it’s annoying but can be fixed), and the price.  It’s a brilliant use of my PCs cycles though; it looks very slick.  We’ll see how it as after a couple of months of running.

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8 thoughts on “Windows 7: A First Impression”

    1. I tried Moonlight a couple of years ago, and it didn’t really work for me. I think I’ll give it a shot now, but I have Win7 as a backup. :) Thank you for the link!

  1. No worries. Whether you like it or not, they’ve made great strides with Moonlight/Mono. They hacked together Linux support for watching the Obama inauguration in 24hrs, I believe…

    1. Wow, that’s some quick coding! I just remember that I tried to watch footage from the last Summer Olympics on my Ubuntu box and it didn’t work out at all. It was very frustrating that I had to go back to my Windows partition to watch the sports that I actually wanted to see (they were only showing basketball and women’s beach volleyball, ugh). I guess I like the more obscure sports!

      Amy

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