Saturday, January 17, 2009

Windows 7 Beta - First Impressions

Its finally here!

Struggling with my low bandwidth and frequent power cuts, I finally managed to download and install one of the most talked about releases of Microsoft’s operating system: Windows 7 Beta!

image
In one sentence: I like it!

Its cooler than Vista in many regards. Be it the new and improved Aero effects, the desktop peek feature, the new and improved taskbar or the new “jumplists”, it simply makes Vista seem old already. Believe me, even though I haven’t used Vista for long, I still feel this is the Vista that Microsoft should have released in the first place!

The installation didn’t take too long.. just around 25 minutes to finish a fresh install on my dad’s HP Pavilion dv6000 series laptop. I made it a dual boot along with Windows Vista Home Premium, which came preinstalled with the laptop. After that, installing drivers and software was a breeze.. all the drivers that came with the Vista installation worked without a hitch here too.

As soon as that was over, the new “Action Center” kicked in, warning me that my PC was not protected against viruses and attacks. When I clicked on it, it gave me the option to install Norton 360, Kaspersky’s new tech preview or AVG. I chose Norton 360, and it was installed within minutes. The trial period will end in 15 days (after which I will go back to my favourite Avast antivirus :P ).

image

Two of the most noticeable features are the new Libraries in place of the traditional My Documents subfolders, and the new taskbar. Libraries provide a consolidated view of the files on your computer, rather than showing them as simple files and folders. For example, the Pictures library shows you all the pictures from your configured locations in a single view. You can search within the libraries, move things around and play with them. The Music library in this view is shared with Windows Media Player, so what you see here is what you get there!

image

The new taskbar warrants a whole blog post for itself. Its just simple and easier to use than what we have been seeing this far. Multiple windows of the same application show up as a single icon on the taskbar. When you hover on that icon, you see previews of all the windows for that application. Even tabs in Internet Explorer show up this way. You can pin application icons to the taskbar to use as quick shortcuts, something like the QuickLaunch bar of older versions.

image

Windows Media player is also a part of this toolbar, and you can control playback right from the preview window that pops up when you hover over the icon.

And here below we have the before and after pictures of the Desktop Peek feature. It allows you to get a glimpse of the desktop and the gadgets (oh, I didn’t talk about those!) there without actually minimizing all the windows. Simple.. it just makes all of the windows transparent!

Peek-Before Peek-After

Well, I could go on, but there are other experts who have done a more serious and in-depth review of this OS. This is just my personal experience of using it for one day. (And I already got used to it :) )

If you want to try it out too, you can get your hands dirty at the Windows 7 Beta Download page.
I’m looking forward to 6 months of experimentation!