A couple of days ago I took the plunge the OS plunge. Yup I updated my PC from Windows XP to Windows 7. The updating process was both surprising easy and annoying to the extreme. The surprising easy part, put your disc in the DVD drive and the setup will do the rest. You don't have to lift a single finger as the process automates almost everything. The annoying part ? Well you see Windows 7 don't like Windows XP hence it insist that you do a CLEAN install which is basically delete everything and start from scratch. You old Windows directory is renamed to Windows.Old including everything from your C:\Windows system directory to your C:\Program Files (yes even that!) and Windows 7 setup drops all the content of your old OS life into a single neat directory ready to be deleted, nothing is imported (configurations, email and all). If you are by chance a Vista user then the process of upgrading is quite pleasant, put the DVD in the drive, click install and go watch some TV or movies for the next couple of hours. By the time your movie is finished Windows 7 is ready for you.
What I like about Windows 7:
- The user interface is neat. They did a good job on the Aero layout. Unfortunately Aero takes up a lot of your computer's memory and resources so if you are like me who wants a lean mean efficient gaming rig then disable Aero and go with the resource minimal (drab) interface.
- Your Windows 7 comes in a 32 bit and 64 bit versions on 2 separate DVDs. In case you upgraded to a 64 bit PC in the future you can use your copy of the OS without needing to purchase another.
- Supports DirectX 11. Makes games look good.
- Some application runs faster in Windows 7. The OS also detects your full 4GB of RAM in 32 bit mode altho only 3GB can actually be used (this is a 32 bit architecture limitation).
- Boot up in Windows 7 takes a bit longer than XP (I clocked mine at around 30 seconds for full boot up).
- A very configurable and customizable user interface.
- I like the new toolbar which has a feature called pinning. It basically allows you to pin a software into the toolbar like a notepad.
- Plug and play devices installs very easily with Windows 7. If you plug in a PnP device that Windows does not recognize, it searches its online database and downloads the correct device driver software for you. No more needing to search thru the internet like crazy.
- Windows Firewall is now even more configurable than before.
- They phased out Microsoft Outlook and other programs from the basic installation DVD and instead you have to download (for free) the Microsoft Essentials Pack which basically includes several software packages such as the Microsoft Live Mail, Movie Maker, Instant Messanger etc. I consider this a good thing. If you don't want the extra stuff then you don't have to install the pack but it's there if you ever want it.
What I don't like about Windows 7:
- Some very old software can no longer run in Windows 7.
- Some games run much slower in Windows 7 especially if they are not optimized for the OS.
- Many software (especially games) that uses Gameguard no longer functions properly in Windows 7.
- The annoying UAC (User Access Control) is still there but at least now you can tone it down or outright disable it.
I believe the overall reaction to Windows 7 has been overwhelmingly positive. It's a good OS with a good price (I got mine for $50 bucks during the pre-order event) that retails for around $115-$120 for the Premium Home Edition (upgrade edition).