Windows 7 Install And Initial Impressions

So I got a copy of the new, yet-to-be-released-but-finished, Windows 7 from my favorite company, Microsoft. I’ve actually been getting a bit excited about this, as it’s heralded to be a newer, better, less sucky version of Vista. And even some of the hardcore tech bloggers and personalities are getting a bit excited about it.

Now I haven’t had that many issues with Vista, but I tend to tell people that it’s bi-polar. Half the time it works fine, smooth, easy, no issues at all, but the other half of the time it’s stalling, crunching away, not able to delete files, sitting and doing nothing while blocking me from doing things, etc. But then you reboot (or reboot several times) and suddenly it’s back to being completely normal and working beautifully.

So I managed to shanghai a legit copy of Windows 7 from my buddy in the Microsoft camp, and after finishing 3 triple redundant backups of my system and photos, I was finally ready last night to do the install. Memories of my Vista install were coming back now.

I opted to not upgrade as my Windows install was 3 years old and had, as Windows tends to do, accumulated a fair amount of software cruft, and a clean install felt like the right thing to do.

Read on….

The Install

I have two separate reviews of the install. The first is “OMFG what a POS this crap just sits there, OMG micro$oft is the SUXOR!!!!1111!!!!”. The second is “Install went just dandy, except for a minor issue with some peripheral that I had plugged in (I think).”
Booting from the DVD and getting into the install went slooooooooooooooooow. Once it got to the “Starting Setup” screen (basically what you get after the initial screen that you get the big “install now” button) it literally sat on that screen for 45 minutes to an hour. An hour! My hardware isn’t old (dual core 2.4G with 4G RAM) or esoteric, and I’ve had zero issues with hardware and windows compatibility before, so this struck me as “odd”. I was watching TV at the time so I just let it keep on doing whatever it was doing while I enjoyed the House season premier. When it did finally start up and get into the install wizard of course I hit the wrong button and missed the ‘format disk’ option so I had to hit cancel and go back and wait for it to go through the ‘starting setup’ screen again!
After some investigation it sounds like it was either the SATA controller mode (IDE vs AHCI) or it got caught up somehow slowly probing the USB card reader(s) that I have plugged into the machine. Either way by the time I figured this out the install had started and I was heading to bed to let it finish overnight, so I can’t tell you how long it took or what happened during it. I presume it was normal and smooth though.
Initial Impressions

This is based on about 5 minutes of use over a bowl of cereal this morning before leaving for work and a bit of software installation done via remote desktop, so there’s not a lot of “real world” stuff in there.
It’s nice, I admit it. The initial desktop with the background is pretty, the subtle little effects when you change panes in the control panel for example are very smooth, and the overall display (I have a decent video card so I get the full Aero experience) is sexy.
Complaints So Far
What I don’t like is some of the new Taskbar hotness. Microsoft changed the (default) Windows Taskbar to be more Mac OS/X Dock like, at least according to some, and when you have multiple windows open you still get just one icon in the Taskbar, but access to whichever ones through it. It does this by giving a little pop up “jump list” of windows above the icon when you click on it with multiple app windows open.
This works better with pictures, but it’s just a quick post so I’ll do my best.
When you have two Firefox browser windows open and they are both minimized, when you click on the Firefox icon you don’t get the browser window like you’d expect, but instead a pop up from the task bar of the windows open and you get to choose which one you want to un-minimize. It’s a bit annoying actually. Even if the window isn’t minimized but is just not active the list doesn’t get opened. Even more annoying is “real” Windows 7 apps like IE 8 where each individual IE tab is considered a separate window, so unless you have only one tab in a window, you have to click into the jump list just to get back to your IE window. WTF?! This isn’t horrible with only a couple of tabs open in a window, but any geek worth their salt will have 30+ tabs open at a time, and this would be very unmanagable. Of course any geek worth their salt is going to be using Firefox anyway….. 🙂
I’d prefer a more OS/X type solution like to bring the most recent active window to the front and leave the “window list from taskbar icon” to the right click “jump list” menu. Might be something I’m doing wrong or it’s just the default is off, or maybe it’s a symptom of using it via RDP. I’ll see how things go though as time goes on.
See, only one complaint so far! I’m doing well. Course, I haven’t had that much time at it yet, I’m sure my cynical and complaining personality will find more to bitch about 🙂

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