Let us not underestimate the monumental importance of a Microsoft Windows release.
We doyen of the internet are so often inclined to scoff, so blissfully ensconced we sometimes are in this perfect brushed metal and candy-coated RDF of a certain cult-ish maker of glowing fruit-themed technology. Macs are the opiate of the geekerati. The rest of the world overwhelming runs Windows. But, with great marketshare comes great responsibility. When 90% of the world’s PCs run Windows, if Microsoft stumbles, if Microsoft stalls or fails to innovate, the whole world’s IT infrastructure is held back.
With Vista, Microsoft stalled and stumbled. Win7 is Microsoft’s mea culpa. I myself have been playing with it long enough now to form some impressions. The following are 12 points from my own personal experience with 7. Your mileage may vary.
- The startmenu commandline / searchable program list is a killer feature. Once familiar with it, you will find it painful to switch back to Windows XP. Also salvaged from Vista, volume levels by application is a nice feature even OSX can’t match.
- The new icons-only-with-no-labels task bar makes for a horrible mess of trying to get anything done across multiple windows. By default, Win7 hides the names of all your open windows. For a long time this infuriated me and it’s a good thing I didn’t write this post earlier. If there’s one most significant reason I finally warmed up to Win7, it is because I belatedly learned that it’s actually fairly easy to turn this feature off. [There’s a PROTIP in here somewhere]
- Microsoft will tell you that Win7 is flush with drivers and runs with a bazzion devices. This is a lie. Upgraders be warned, a lot of OEMs or makers of any number of little integrated hardware features have not bothered to support, or make it easy to upgrade (they’d be happy for you to buy a brand new Win7-loaded machine instead). Case in point: The Win7 demo thinkpad leant to me by microsoft themselves had the following non-functional devices: fingerprint reader, touchpad scrolling, lcd brightness and webcam. I have a otherwise perfectly good laser printer that HP assures me will never support win7. The driver situation getting better since the launch though. For one, my Rogers rocket sticks now supports 7 which had been a showstopper for upgrading my primary notebook computer.
- Win7 is the first OS to natively, properly support SSDs. Also, SSDs are awesome.
- Win7 has DX11 may well be good for gaming (for various reasons, DX10 was kinfof a bust). I see signals that PC gaming is enjoying a cyclical resurgence as the PC upgrade cycle continues unabated while the current gen of consoles are hitting midlife.
- Win7 gets rid of Vista’s infuriating wifi connection tool, which means many fewer clicks to connect to a wifi network.
- Win7 has mobile-broadband drivers and connectivity built right in. So long as they don’t conflict with your device’s own drivers, this is great.
- MS clearly put a lot of work into the rich, heavy media-center feature stuffed into Win7. Which, as far as I can tell, was entirely pointless. A basic file browser, and double click to open w/ VLC player being a far smoother, faster, and more reliable way to launch any media file in our household.
- Are you old enough to remember when the brand new Windows 95 was actually considered cool? Bad news: Win7 will not make you cool. But you knew that already. What’s worse, most every recent marketing attempt (not to mention gnaw-your-own-eys-out-cringeworthness Win7 Launch-party videos) digs poor Windows users further in the hole. You’re just going to have to deal with that.
- Vista felt like it was designed by committee of sadistic IT managers, intent on driving down support costs by actively impeding users from doing anything useful with their machines whenever possible. Win7 isn’t perfect, but it does manage to stay out of your way a lot more often. Now that I think about it, working right and, staying the hell out of my way as much as possible, is pretty much all I ask for in an OS.
- WinXP is old now, long past it’s best-by date. Meanwhile Win7 is tangibly less annoying than Vista. For my money, Win7 is the only Microsoft OS worth running. You just may have to buy a new printer.
- I have this theory we are approaching an age of operating system irrelevance. Who cares what the platform is that runs locally, so long as it connects efficiently you to the cloud. In that regard, Win7 has good networking,works well with next-gen hardware, and therefore gets you quick enough into Firefox. Which is really all that matters right?