I was at a preview session for Windows 7 last evening and in short, I am impressed.
I am quite excited and encouraged by what I saw in the demos and from having a quick play with it on a netbook. Microsoft just might have got it spot on this time around but at the very least it appears to be a big improvement on Vista.
It’s fast. Starting up a 1GB netbook running Windows 7 took what seemed like 1 or 2 seconds. As our demo guy moved through various apps and processes it seemed very nifty indeed.
It’s clear. From the visual aspect (lots of semi-transparency, large icons and a general feeling of de-cluttering) to the levels of windows involved in various processes, the whole OS is more simplified, straight-forward and easy to use.
It integrates. The demo we saw only showed syncing of Windows Media Centre between a PC and X Box but it was easy, seamless and quick considering the volume of media that was on the machine.
It’s fun. One of the interactions that I took a shine to was by clicking, holding and shaking a window, all other open windows are hidden. Theme packs (based on traditional Windows themes) are bundles of wallpapers, interface colour schemes, soundscapes, bookmarks, RSS feeds and more based on a specific country. There’s 20 ‘official’ theme packs to choose from with an Irish one available post-release via the Microsoft website.
Other good stuff
For designers the re-organisation of the font library sounds like a welcome change. If like me you have a few hundred fonts installed, selecting fonts from dropdown menus in Photoshop, Flash or even just Word is a bit of a nightmare. Windows 7 will automatically hide seldom-used fonts from these menus. Within the font library itself you can manually show/hide particular fonts and font families to your own preference also.
PSR (Problem Step Recorder) is a new addition to the Windows OS. Essentially, it’s a small program that allows you to record a screen-capture sequence of an interaction on your computer and submit it to Windows support to help resolve problems.
Windows 7 will also have full bio-metric support as well as support for third-party multi-touch devices.
Admittedly, I haven’t done a huge amount of reading on it but I hear upgrading from Vista and indeed XP might be a bit of a nightmare. There’s no option currently available for non-DVD drive netbooks but there may be a solution released some time in the future.
When can I have it?
It’s on sale to the general public on October 22. If you’re a business customer you can get it right now under volume licsensing. Prices on their website are in dollars (boo) starting at $120. Follow them on Twitter as @win7ireland for updates and competitions or find out about upgrading from XP and Vista and all that jazz over here.
I’ve got no idea how easy/tough it’s going to be to upgrade my parent’s PC to Windows 7 but I’m going to give it a go when I’m down there in a fortnight. I think it’s going to make life a lot easier for them.
Many thanks to all the folks at Microsoft and Edelman Ireland for the demos, Q & A and the lovely surprise of a copy of the OS to take home.