windows 7 load screenOn May 7, just two days after it was released I downloaded and installed Windows 7 RC 1.  This would be the mostly almost finished version of Windows 7, the successor of the horribly inefficient Windows Vista.  While some might say that I’m unfit to review a Windows product after my thrashing of Windows over the years (I was happily Windows free for years until the iTouch forced me back.  How’s that for irony) I think this makes me an excellent candidate for testing it.  Because I’m not a Gates fangirl.  In fact, I’m starting to think Gates is the Anti-Christ, oh wait, that’s Sam Winchester.  Sorry, I get confused sometimes.  The point is, against my better judgment?  I’m impressed.

I did have some issues installing but I can’t even blame those on Microsoft.  No, that had everything to do with the fun and exciting Libyan power we have here.  So in the middle of my first attempt to install Windows 7, my laptop fried it’s motherboard.  Apparently Vista was feeling the heat and figured it was it or Win 7 and it was going to make sure neither of them survived.  Or my HP committed suicide because of it’s desperate, star-crossed love of Vista.  Either way?  She’s dead, Jim.  Which presented a problem. 

 

Windows themselves will tell you not to install Windows 7 on your main machine.  That’s not because they don’t believe in the operating system, but because there are bugs in it.  Big bugs that they haven’t found, hence why they’re releasing it as a Release Candidate.  Think of it as your most finale draft that you send off to the beta reader right before you’re gonna post your fiction.  You want them to find any and all glaring errors you missed.  This is the same thing.  wallpaperHeeding their advice, I tried to figure out what I could put it on as I was down a test machine.  I ended up installing it on Virtualbox, which is a virtualization program that means you can have many many different computers on one set of hardware.  It’s pretty cool, and I’ll explain more in detail in another post.  The basics is that this program creates a pretend computer for you to install another operating system and use.  This would be perfect as I can test it out without touching my actual hardware.  (Plus, it’s awesome for viruses as it never actually touches your “bare metal”)

I created a virtual computer with 512 megs of RAM and a 20 gig hard drive.  Then I loaded Windows 7.  The install process was a breeze and this was the first Windows install I didn’t have to sit and babysit.  Very easy and intuitive.    The only trick was the product code, but it wasn’t required to install, which I thought it was odd and I have a feeling that will definitely be fixed by the final release.  Still after a few minutes of cursing and grumbling it was interesting to see that I didn’t need it.  There is however a product code, which is given to you in a text file that comes with the download.  But as I didn’t get the text file I was at a bit of a loss.

 

wallpaperI had a lot of trepidation about the specs on my pretend machine.  Windows 7 minimum install requirements are 1Ghz processor, 1Ghz of RAM and at least 16 gigs of hard drive space.  That said, Microsoft has swore left, right and center that Windows 7 will be able to work on a netbook, those really tiny laptops that are great for travel, email, and Internet.  Those have at most 512 megs of RAM in most of them, so I thought what the hell, at least I can see if Microsoft is a lying liar who lies.
 
 
Sadly?  They don’t seem to be, at least not in this instance.  So far I’ve been having real problems trying to slow down my processor to something resembling the crawl that was my Vista laptop.  Even iTunes, which is a beast in and of itself runs quick and fast, faster possibly than it did back when I had XP and iTunes.  This is cause for celebration for most people that love their Windows boxes or at least are two lazy to try something else out. 
 
I will say this, the Windows designers have out done themselves on the pretty.  The artwork is stunning and someone over there in Redmond either is a huge fan of Hiyao Miyazaki or smokes the really good stuff.  Or both.  This version of Windows has bundled with 37 different wallpapers right out of the box.  They range from the default, which is a beta fish swimming in open water (anyone else see that as slightly defensive of Microsoft) to my personal favorite, the aptly named img20, which is very Russian looking and has matrioshka dolls and honey image 20bears wearing clothing.  Before this trial ends I’m totally snagging the wallpapers because they are just that cracktastic.  When you right click on the desktop you can personalize it, which includes the ability to change your desktop every 30 minutes.  So far I haven’t seen much of a slow down on my processor, but the night is young and I’m just starting to break things.  *grin*  Indeed the entire look of the OS has a shiny new feel to it.  It’s hard to say, but this looks like what Aero, which is what Microsoft called their video effects program, is supposed to look like.  It’s shiny, it’s new and it’s gorgeous.  Sometimes shiny silver is exactly the color to go with.  There are also many different sound themes.  Yes, remember way back to Win98SE and when we all had themes for every single day of the week?  Well, while not quite so garish, this is similar.  Unfortunately, I can’t review the sound themes as, surprise!  I’m having sound issues.
 
 
This brings me to the things I’m not so happy about or need to be fixed before the release.  First is the sound.  Now granted, I’m running this on Virtualbox and it uses it’s own sound drivers.  Plus, well, I’ve always had issues with sound.  It’s my own albatross to bear.  Granted, usually it’s not the Win boxes that give me headaches, it’s the Linux boxes, but considering this is a Windows install on a Linux box, should I really be surprised?  This seems to be the biggest problem with Windows, is the lack of driver support.  Again, I’m using a Release Candidate so not everything has been ironed out, but lack of drivers, especially for older components is part of what KILLED Vista, and while I have this savage glee in Microsoft failing, I can’t actually say I want this one to fail.  Plus, I mean really?  I still get to use the book title, “Surprise!  I have sound issues” which really truly works for me on so many many levels.
 
 
The other thing is Java.  While yes, Microsoft it was really nice of you to pre-install Java on java logoyour machine, something tells me you have yet to let go of your grudge with Sun over Java and installed something that resembles Java but really isn’t.  Perhaps your MS Java Virtual Machine?  Which…is not Java and my attempt at depositing a check online (greatest invention EVAH by the way) and also trying to check and see how my work email runs with Windows 7 tells me so.  Because both of them come up with the Java logo but then give me a big ol‘ X on actually doing anything.  Thanks a lot Microsoft.  You failed there, as Java is steadily becoming more and more prevalent in society as a whole and you really do need to let go of this grudge.  You stole Java and you got caught.  End of story man, let it go.
 
 
The last really annoying thing is that all the default games in Windows 7 require DirectX 9.  Which if you installing on bare metal probably isn’t really that big of a deal, but if you’re installing, like me, on a virtual machine the end result is that it won’t work.  So no spider or freecell or even chess.  I mean really?  Why does freecell need DirectX for anyway?  That’s something for WoW or Second Life or even the Sims2.  Of course, now I’m curious what the hell the freecell looks like that it needs DirectX 9.
 
 
Over all, and with much arm twisting, I have to say this is a good solid OS.  I reserve the right to change my mind, and I’m not giving up my Ubuntu box for anything in the world, but…if I had to buy a new laptop or desktop, I probably wouldn’t cringe if I saw Windows 7 on it.
 
 
You can find the download for Windows 7 RC 1 at Microsoft’s webpage.