First, I’ll explain my bias: I’m primarily a Linux user, and I’d love to write a blog post trashing Windows. My experience with it so far, however, tells me that Windows 7 (only the beta, no less) is a big improvement and overall an excellent operating system. Now, I still prefer Linux, and I have a feeling my preference won’t be changing any time soon, but I also think we should acknowledge that Microsoft is taking a step in the right direction with their latest iteration of Windows.
I’m sure there are plenty of you out there still clinging to your XP install. Vista wasn’t nearly as bad as it’s made out to be (at least after most of the kinks were worked out, and given your PC was powerful enough to run it decently), but will Windows 7 be enough to bring over the XP users? In terms of speed and performance, Win7 beats XP across the board. Vista improved on XP’s security, and Win7 in turn improves on Vista; both Vista and Win7 are, out of the box, safer than XP.
But what about new features? It’s not all eye candy, though there’s some of that (really though, I could care less about eye candy in windows… it still doesn’t come close to compiz-fusion+Gnome, KDE, or Mac OS). There are lists of all the new features out there on the web, so I’ll only detail the stuff I noticed and used in my everyday computing. The library grouping is rather helpful, as are the jump lists and the new taskbar. Aero’s learned some new tricks as well, but I’m not too impressed. Win7 handles devices like a champ, and the new calculator is neat. UAC has gotten less annoying, but IMO it wasn’t that bad to begin with. Importantly, resource use is down dramatically from Vista.
This is turning into an advertisement, which isn’t my intention. Really, though, this is the best first impression I’ve ever had of a Windows operating system, and it’s in beta! The cynical part of me still thinks Microsoft can ruin it between now and launch time, but things really are looking good right now. It’s very stable — probably more-so than Vista was months after it was released. If you’re reading this from Vista right now, I highly recommend you go find a Windows 7 torrent on your favorite tracker and try it out.