Windows 7, Microsoft’s answer to the vexing problems and negative feedback update from Vista, finally made a public appearance October 22. I’ve been using Windows 7 Release Candidate as well as received a copy of the final version before the public did. Is it all that it’s cracked up to be? In my now turning three months of using Windows 7 RC, I have a lot less headaches than my two years of using Vista.
Microsoft did way more than just fixed Windows Vista’s major annoyances (pop up alerts every time you change a setting, and the high system requirements), they also added a set of new features that make your computer easier, maybe even more inspiring, to use.
The taskbar is now revamped and incorporates some of the responsibilities that once belonged to the Start Menu. Groups of windows are now organized into icons, so if you want to preview what’s open, simply mouseover the icon. If you often use a program and want to launch it from the taskbar, you can pin it (think of it as Quick Launch). The “Recent Documents” feature is now “Jump Links”, which you can access simply by right clicking on the icon in the taskbar. The coolest feature of the Jump Links is the ability to pin documents you use frequently. Prefer to keep the icons off the taskbar? They incorporated the Jump Links and pinning of programs inside the Start Menu as well.
While there are improvements to the way the actual Windows work (which you can see in the videos below), my favorite improvements are the ones that I didn’t think about. For instance, “My Documents” are now organized into Libraries. Libraries are pretty much “shortcuts”, but with a difference; they can link folders together so you can see the contents of several folders in one Library. Another improvement is the way Windows 7 handle a blank disc. Pop in a blank disc and Windows 7 asks a simple question and explain the options. There are lots of little improvements that make Windows 7 a pleasure to use, like:
- Setting up the Windows to change the wallpaper automatically without additional software.
- Improved wireless connection wizard.
- A snipping tool to take snapshots. This eliminates the need to educate people on how to take a screenshot.
- Energy-Saving Improvements as well as less requirements to upgrade. You can enjoy most of Windows 7 without having to make a massive upgrade.
- A Message Center that will help you make the most out of your computer.
- Windows Media Player is more responsive and helpful in Windows 7 than pervious versions.
- Do you have programs that you can only run in Windows XP or don’t really work in Windows 7? Now there’s an “Windows XP Mode”, which will create a virtual machine (a copy of Windows XP) within Windows 7. So, if you need Windows XP, you can have it!
Now, as much as I like Windows 7 over Vista, there are some minor annoyances, such as:
- My keyboard isn’t working the way it’s suppose to. I can’t seem to get my Fn key to work, so I lost access to a few keys. Not a big annoyance because it’s due to HP not wanting to support Windows 7 while I was testing it.
- The Message Center at times gives you a false positive. I installed an Anti-Virus protection software and Message Center thought I didn’t. While it’s not nagging me about it, the flag raising is on my conscious.
- While Windows XP Mode is probably will be a life saver, you can only get it if you are using Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate.
- Renaming “My Networks” to “HomeGroups”. Why does Microsoft keeps reinventing the wheel, I will NEVER know.
So, is Windows 7 worth investing in? If you have a computer that came with Windows Vista and you downgraded to Windows XP, I say now is the time to upgrade it to Windows 7. If you have a computer that is about more than 3 years old, I would suggest it’s better to just get a new computer with Windows 7, as well as re-evaluate what you use your computer for to get the best out of your purchase. While Windows 7 may not convert the most hardcore of Mac users, it will help the rest of us makes sense of our PCs…
… now if only HP can give me a better sound card…
V. Matthew King-Yarde (aka Nukirk Digi.tal) is a freelance graphic and web designer as well as a New Media Consultant. He’s also a songwriter, recording artist and studies how to use Social Media to promote musicians as well as himself. He blogs about his love for music, social media and provides commentary when the two collides on his blog “Thought Remixer“.
(Windows Areo Shake, 3D Flip and Peek)
(Windows Max Windows Starter – This stops you from opening to many programs)