Good day everybody,
Today I installed the windows 7 beta, and I honestly have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.
I know it's been around for the general public a while now, but I have a few things to praise microsoft for ( A sentence I never before thought I'd write.)
Under windows vista, half of my hardware is counted as unsupported ( I.E. USB devices), and some parts are not even recognised, which left me in grave doubts as to whether or not I should make the switch from XP/Ubuntu to the new release. It turns out I had no need to worry, but more of that later.
First things first, The release, though a beta, feels complete and well designed. Building on the previous "Aero" themes, Windows 7 allows you to dynamically change visual style with no delay, And I mean none. themes can be switched quite literally in real time, and the "gadget" system is improved. (In vista, you were bombarded by useless gadgets by default, but 7 displays none by default, allowing you to build a layout from scratch without having to remove useless features.)
The taskbar is also an extreme improvement, as instead of horizontal bars or the annoying, seemingly mac inspired 3d view, you are presented with a set of icons, which when right clicked give you a multitude of program control options. This may seem simple, but it REALLY helps make programs feel more integrated.
Visually, 7 struck me as a mix of all the finer points of Mac OS and vista combined, and while some may yell plagerism, I find it refreshing that microsoft have opted for a more toned down, simple release and in particular, I was impressed by the use of the Aero system.
In vista, The aero theme was a new thing, and it didn't seem so much a visual style as MS shouting "Look how cool we are, everythings translucent and futuristic DX10 4EVA !!11!!!".
In 7, The Aero system is present, as mentioned, but it feels more natural, fluid, and quite honestly so much easier on the Eyes.
Now, my main point, which those of you unfortunate enough to read this far will be glad to hear.
I kid you not, after a fresh install ( formatted, no data present on system), 7 actually detected my network adaptor, (despite it being a ten pound piece of generic trash), offered to help set up my network connection, and all before I'd even booted for the first time!
After booting up ( which was noticeably quicker than vista), I was pleasantly surprised to find every single device on my pc worked, even my obscure guitar to pc sound bridge. Wow.
On top of this, 7 beta appears to come bundled with (quite) new releases of major hardware drivers.
In all, With an installation size of around 8 gigabytes from a 2.5 GB ISO, This release seems to provide amazing support, is well designed, runs faster and more stable than vista, and just generally feels better.
Could this be the OS that finally silences all those legions of "it works out of the box" apple fans? Probably not, but even at beta stage, windows 7 appears to be worthy of such an accolade. Of course, I can't tell how much the finished product will differ, but I honestly think this is the best OS Microsoft have released.
On a side note, the 7 beta somewhat amusingly actually has LOWER system requirements than vista, and just to top up my newfound love of MS, the included licence key is valid till june 2010.
Let the good times roll.