Windows 7 is here…officially

Over the past couple of months, I have painstakingly avoided any articles related to Windows 7. My daily RSS feed, lifehacker, seemed to be particularly enthralled with all the new features. I did not have the time to "play" on a virtual server, and not wanting to install a beta or pre-release software as my primary operating system I simply ignored all of these articles.

The other day, however, we acquired some new laptops and I found myself in a bit of a quandary with regard to my OS. Windows 7 was officially on being released at the end of October, so I was faced with the choice of installing Vista 64-bit, or Windows 7 RTM. Considering that the RTM version is the same as the official release version, I decided to take the "7" plunge and downloaded the 64-bit version from the partner website..and BOY, am i glad i did that!

I am normally quite reluctant to install first releases and usually wait for the SP1 release before installing a new OS, but I figured Vista represented a SP1 and SP2 release and windows 7 should be quite stable. I have also not felt this hype for an OS since 95 or Windows 2000 were first released, and I really think it is worth it. I also think that for the first time, Windows 7 really competes with the likes of Ubuntu on stability, performance and usability. Of course Linux will always be faster, but I can notice a significant improvement on speed when compared to our Vista 64-bit machine.

So what is it that makes Windows 7 a worthwhile experience:

  1. They have taken Vista and basically overhauled it and taken all the bad things away and replaced them with more usability
  2. Windows explorer/My computer has improved and is customisable (although not as easy to use as good old XP explorer)
  3. The new taskbar with Aero peek is very nice - especially the ability to right click and access recent documents/websites etc.
  4. the searching/indexing functionality just works! This also makes running apps a real breeze as you just start typing the name and there it is. SQL server is there after "SQ"
  5. I have had no problems with drivers or software and I am running the 64-bit version. Even Arcmap works!
  6. From a development perspective, we get IIS7 and the ability to have multiple sites - a big plus in my books

Obviously with all the aero etc  functionality you need a bit of extra hardware to handle the additional RAM requirement. That said I am running Core 2 Duo 2.4Ghz and 4Gb Ram and it runs very smoothly. Also, your C partition needs to be reasonably big as after all my software has been installed (office, SQL server, Visual Studio, GIS programs etc) I have used 35Gb of my C drive. But we were expecting that.

My one gripe is that we still have these stupid placeholder folders for those of us that show all system folders etc etc. why show us a "Documents and Settings" folder if we cant click on it is above me. It takes us all of about a couple of days to be trained into the new location of our "appdata" folder or our "temp" folder.

All in all, so far a really good experience and I hope it continues that way. For the first time in about 10 years...well done Microsoft - you have done something right.