Monday, 27 July 2009

Windows 7

Like a lot of people, we’ve been keeping an eye on the information coming out about the next version of Windows. We received a copy of the RC 1 candidate for Windows 7 on Monday (thanks Georgina) – we have a PC with a copy of Vista Business Ultimate that we use for testing purposes (a Dell Optiplex 210 with a dual core 1.8 GHz and 1 GB ram), so thought we would partition the disk and do a dual boot so that we could do a direct comparison.

The installation went quite well – some of the usual types of screens for the initial installation, but not as many as we would normally see for older OS. The actual process start to finish was a little over 40 minutes. We didn’t join the PC to the domain although we left it plugged in and it picked up on the required settings, so we were able to activate it straight away. We then joined it to the domain a couple of days later - no hassles at all.

I’ve also run another copy on a second machine – an HP dx2450 with a dual core 2.3 and 2 GB RAM. This one installed in just over 25 minutes. Again, it was a very straight forward installation, with only a few screens to configure and absolutely no issues at all.

Initial reaction to it was that it does look a lot like Vista – same screens, same gadget bar etc. However, within a few minutes, it was noticeable that it was faster that the equivalent Vista installation probably about 40 – 50% faster. The Start button, Taskbar items and other shortcuts all seem to work much quicker as well – no delays between clicking the button and the app starting to open, which was a bit of a major gripe with the Vista installation.

We added our AV product (Nod32 by Eset) – it worked straight away, without any issues at all. We then added our automatic patching tool (Shavlik) – as it’s an RC product, we didn’t expect it to work. However, it did actually pick up on the OS, although there were no patches for it at this stage. The second PC was left as a stand alone system and AVG free (8.5) was installed as the AV product. The PC was connected to the Internet to allow it to run the automated patching – again very quick, very straight forward.

At this stage, we are still testing different apps on the machines – our ERP software, some CAD software, and various applications which we use. Not one of them has had an issue with running – the UAC threw up its warnings, but I don’t consider that a problem as that is exactly what it should do.

We’ve left the test machines in an office for people to check out – so far only a few have taken the time to do this. However, of those that have used it, not one has said that they don’t like it. All comments have been very positive and it seems that a number of people are now very keen to get the product for themselves and we may well consider installing it early next year with our next hardware refresh. All in all, it seems that Windows 7 is just what the doctor ordered.

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