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Windows 7 review (in VMware, beta)

Introduction

As my readers will know, I have recently been testing out lots of OSes in VMware. The latest to hit my test line was the beta of Windows 7. In this very brief review, I intend to outline the major achievements of Windows 7 so far.

Despite everything, the hardware requirements for running a normal copy of Windows 7 have not gone down: still the same 1GB RAM, and a strong graphics card.

As I cannot dispense my currently installed OSes (Vista, Fedora, openSUSE), I decided to install in a virtual environment – VMware.

Installation

The install experience was practically identical to Vista, and the similarity of Windows 7 to Vista at a core level is so strong, that VMware automatically detected it as Vista and proceeded on its ‘Easy Install’. I was expecting it to run into errors – after all, there must be some differences. Turns out there were none, and an hour later, I was sitting on the desktop.

Impression

The lack of an Aero interface was not surprising (VMware does not support it). But was apparent was a high level of polish in the Basic theme. I noticed that I had installed Windows 7 ‘Ultimate’, which gives an idea of flavouring similar to Vista too.

There is no major interface overhaul. There are slight changes here and there, just a few movements here and there. Nothing as drastic as the XP to Vista transition – Vista users will not even have to delve around to find what they need.

Performance

On my Virtual Machine, it ran just slightly faster than Vista but much slower than XP. I was expecting a greater difference, particularly after the hearsay about Windows 7 being developed for netbooks and all.

Software that works in Vista is very likely to work in W7, though not some of the core running software that runs at a very low level such as antivirus programs.

Changes

There are no really great new changes. Most are just deft touches of concepts carried forward from Vista, albeit the fact that they make it a better experience.

The Sidebar is gone, and Gadgets can now be placed anywhere. There is almost no difference between an item on the task bar that is running and minimized, or a shortcut to a closed application. This is meant to convey a uniformity of look and selection. Great if the closed application launches fast, otherwise you’ll be kept in dark.

Right clicking the taskbar items brings up Jump Lists – menus related to the Application itself: like recent history for the Internet Explorer.

The UAC problems of Vista are over – there is very little to see of it. Of course, there is the problem of reduced security (I was a fan of the overzealous UAC), but most people will cheer at it.

The Windows Explorer has undergone a few changes – the side pane is better to look at, and more smooth in its flow.

Conclusion

But I maintain that there is no major change in Windows 7. All the media hype is just hype – at its base, Windows works like Vista. The media demonized Windows Vista, and the same media is now glorifying the same features in Windows Vista.

Media perspectives aside, I still like Windows 7. But then again, I like Vista too.

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