Windows 7 Beta 1: I’m not impressed

I am not impressed with Windows 7 Beta 1. While virtually every reviewer, including my friend and Computerworld‘s lead Windows editor and reviewer, Preston Gralla, is for the most part praising Windows 7, Beta 1 is every bit the pig that Windows Vista is. How could reviewers be missing that? The earlier Alpha was fast — even I said so. This beta is not.

For those of you who downloaded the new Windows 7 beta, try launching two Windows at once or loading two Internet Explorer windows. Try deleting one large folder of files, and then while that’s taking forever to delete, try deleting another. Or really anything that involves walking and chewing bubble gum. Like Windows Vista before it, Windows 7 Beta 1 is sluggish, glitchy, and inconsistent. It may be fast for a while, here and there, but as soon as you really press it, performance folds up like a house of cards.

It took me 30 minutes to figure out how to avoid using the brain-dead “HomeGroup” feature to share files and folders on a wireless network. Windows 7 kept telling me that it was sharing the files on the “domain” that was the workstation name of my Windows 7 computer, not the workgroup name on my network (you know, like, “Workgroup”). In fact, there’s no place that I can find within the Network and Sharing Center to create or change the workgroup name. In other words, Microsoft removed this ability in Windows 7, since Vista’s Network and Sharing Center had it. Eventually, I just rebooted Windows 7 and it started recognizing the workgroup name of the other computers connected to it (I wanted to see whether the incorrect workgroup name was a bug or a feature — it was a bug). Yes, you can still change the workgroup name several levels deep under the System Control Panel, but that’s not even slightly intuitive for the uninitiated.

I suppose I should score something in Windows 7′s favor because I was at least able to network with Beta 1, something I gave up on with the Alpha version. Microsoft still doesn’t get networking. In trying to make it more and more a wizard process, it has needlessly complicated it for people who already know what they’re doing. It comes down to this, if the only way we’re being given tools to network requires us to use the HomeGroup, the new name for the Windows Networking Wizard, something is awry. HomeGroup assigns you a cryptic password which you must “write down” to remember, and every computer on your network has to use it. You can’t change this password. And, as with the Alpha version, I don’t see a way to network using HomeGroup with a Linux or Mac machine. (For additional information on the operation of Homegroup, please see the more recent post, Windows 7 Homegroup not so hot in Beta 1.)

The new taskbar, missing from the Alpha code, wasn’t worth the wait. It’s not special. The windows-management features first shown in the Alpha are pretty cool. But the new taskbar is a pale imitation of the Mac’s Dock feature. I suppose that if you’ve never used the Mac’s Dock, you’ll find this innovative. But if you have, you’ll recognize the fact that Microsoft hasn’t improved on it in any meaningful way.

For pictures of the new Windows 7 Beta 1 features, including the new taskbar, see the image gallery for Preston’s Gralla’s Computerworld review of Windows 7 Beta 1.

Other new features include Jump Lists (prettier context menus with new functions) and Aero Peek (yet another way to look behind opened windows). But let me expose this for what it is: Fluffy UI stuff to help make you feel good about a warmed over version of Windows Vista with a new name. Taken as a whole, the changes so far shown in Windows 7 are minor.

In Beta 1, I continue to be happy with total gag order Microsoft gave User Account Control (UAC) by default. It makes using Windows 7 far less annoying. But taking away a bad idea also isn’t that big a deal. You could turn off UAC in Vista too.

Yes, Windows 7 Beta 1 is better than Vista, but if Microsoft doesn’t do serious work on the next version of Windows’ ability to run tasks simultaneously, on software quality, on adding that feeling of effortlessness that the Alpha displayed, I won’t be likely to recommend it. Microsoft needs to do well with this version of Windows. It needs to change the perception of what it’s like to use Windows. Beta 1 is not confidence inspiring in that direction. And for those of you wondering, I clean installed these new Windows 7 bits on the same machine I used for my Alpha review. While no barn burner, it’s a respectable 2.0 GHz Core Duo with a decent graphics subsystem. I purchased it in 2006 to evaluate Windows Vista’s Media Center functionality.

Beta 1 is a prerelease version of Windows 7, so I’m not drawing conclusions this early. But having reviewed every beta and gold release of Windows since Windows 3.0, I’m seeing the beginning of a pattern I’ve seen before: Windows gets slower and less responsive as it gets closer to being released.

At some point you have to just say no to more features and services that build unsustainable overhead. When you use other operating systems — such as Linux and OS X — it becomes clear that Microsoft and its OEM PC manufacturers really don’t care about the fact that Windows is perennially overtaxed.

26 Responses to “Windows 7 Beta 1: I’m not impressed”

  1. bytehead Says:

    Let’s try this again. Windows 7 locked up tight on me. Had to power the machine down and restart. 1st time for me (installed less than one week though…)

    There’s lots of things that feel better with Win 7 than Vista (although I inherited this laptop with Vista, so a from scratch install of Vista might be different…) I can make subdirectories off the root without a UAC or a flat out denial.

    As far as HomeGroup is concerned, I thought it was wild that I was expected to write it down. Turns out you can display it from the control panel. You can also get a new one, or make your own. As far as other computers, workgroup has been working, although I had to reboot one time to get it to work again. I think an update that installed without a reboot actually needed a reboot. When Net View fails from the command line, you’ve got to figure something is screwed up. I’ve had similar problems with Vista though. Same credentials to map a network drive, and the second one kept failing. Used the command line instead of the GUI and that straightened out Vista. Haven’t seen that with Windows 7.

    After backing up this machine up under Vista to my 2003 machine, I can say that it went much faster with Windows 7 on the restore.

    It was weird that I had to compute my score under Windows 7 before it actually turned Aero on. If I recall from my one install of Vista, that happens as soon as you log in for the first time.

    I haven’t run Alpha, so I don’t know what that was like.

    I know I’m enjoying Windows 7 much more than I was enjoying Vista. Oh, and my Bluetooth is working just fine and not screaming at me to finish the installation like Vista did, even though it was working. But I had to download the driver for the SD card, which Vista installed without a burp. And I needed to install the drivers for the webcam.

  2. Scot Says:

    bytehead, thanks for the insights. I’ll check out HomeGroup a bit more and post more about it once I’ve done more extensive research. I’ve run through the HomeGroup creation process twice now. Agree the suggestion to write down the HomeGroup password seems strange, but in a home environment, it makes sense. You don’t want the password on the computer electronically, and the best plan is to make the password something tough to guess. Still, if you lose the piece of paper, that could be a big issue — especially with a product whose support isn’t great. Perhaps more importantly, the fact that you can regenerate or change the password through the CP — well, at the very least that should throw off a UAC prompt. Can’t wait to check this out more!

  3. n3m3s1s666 Says:

    Ok here’s some food for thought for some of the BETA bitchers on here. Now as windows 7 is in BETA Mode its not a prerelease. its a beta of windows. They released the beta so they can give everyone the opportunity to try out windows 7 before they iron out all the bugs. Ok if you found it sluggish, glitchy and inconsistent, either your running on sweet stuff all ram, you need to reinstall it (as sometimes windows installs can be bad) or all of the above. Im currently using windows 7 and Its running fine. Its a lil edgy in some place’s but thats what you have to expect. Personally from my point of view If you thought vista was faster it was more of a system hog on minimal spec system’s (typically 1GHz cpu, 1gb ram, 40gb harddrive) and it was buescreening more on people than anything else. But In my instance with windows 7 is that it runs on a stripped down vista kernel and it needed an overhaul as vista was too bloated and when they did the kernel for vista they realised it had bugs in it to begin with and also the programs they implemented (Aero, UAC, Networking< performance related programs Etc) They realised that it would create a problem for people using vista (especially UAC). Now as of Networking under Vista. I had more problems networking up to a few of my servers aswell as a couple of XP running PC’s I had on my network for file sharing purposes as they weren’t very compatible with eachother. Also I had more success with windows 2000 and vista pairing up together than XP and vista (without the need to put in the IP, Subnet mask, and Default gateway and DNS Server Addresses) than The problems I had pairing up with windows vista and XP. But with windows 7 I have no troubles pairing up any of my PC’s on my network or my servers. And as for basically slamming windows 7. Also scot. For the performance and issur ur having with homegroup. what would be the spec’s of your PC. cuz the spec’s for windows 7 is 1GNz CPU, 1gb ram (I prefer 2 for better latency), 16gb free harddrive space, 128mb Dedicated Direct X 9.0 graphics, DVD rom (Spec’s aren’t finalized as the OS is in BETA Mode).

  4. Scot Says:

    Hey, n3m3s1s666: Drive-by defense is just as lacking in constructive benefit as an ignorant attack of a beta by someone who doesn’t understand that beta code is unfinished and is unlikely to be polished or even fully functional. Fortunately for my readers, I do not fall into that category. (Nor, I would judge, does the first commenter on this story.) If you actually read the story — instead of scanning and posting a Windows-7-is-great post, I think you’ll see distinctions made that treat Windows 7 fairly.

    What’s more, I would say back to you that unless you know what you’re doing, judging your positive experience as the norm is a subjective leap of faith. Did you test the alpha code that was released in November? Without that experience, you don’t have a point of comparison.

    Also, your attempted distinction between beta and prerelease is a moot one. A prerelease version of any application is any non-gold, non-shipping version of the code. It’s a generic term that applies to alphas as well as betas. Each software dev house uses its own variation on prerelease software terminology. But prerelease always means the same thing, any non-shipping code. You may have been thinking about Microsoft’s “preview release” terminology, but that has been used in so many ways by Microsoft as to be all but meaningless.

    Now as to my criticisms of Windows 7: I didn’t say there was anything wrong with Windows 7 — other than what’s wrong with the shipping code it’s heavily based on, Windows Vista. I criticized the fact that it’s not as fast as the alpha version was and I picked nits about the way Microsoft has implemented its HomeGroup feature. Much of the praise of Windows 7 from professional reviewers has centered on Windows 7 performance. What I’m seeing is a Windows Vista-like experience in Beta 1 with some glitzy UI features. In other words, Windows Vista Service Pack 3. Windows 7 doesn’t offer a significant performance improvement — at least, not in Beta 1.

    – Scot

  5. LilBambi Says:

    H Scot,

    Very refreshing to see a balanced beta report. Most people seem to think that since they had a great experience that anyone who doesn’t have that same great experience must be doing something wrong. Which could be true, or it could be different hardware on so many levels.

    My Jim was able to install the Win7 Beta twice natively, and twice in VM (Virtual Box and Parallels) all with varying success on some hardware elements but he said it was very stable overall for him. Of course he definitely saw the sluggishness you saw, particularly in the VMs. He had to use the addons and was eventually able able to get Sound (the very popular SoundBlaster Live) although it was choppy. Virtual Box saw the very standard Intel network card out of the box but Parallels didn’t. Natively, network worked but not sound.

    All of that was eventually worked out with the addons and then Windows Updates then saw it and offered an updated driver (which previously it hadn’t done – could have been coincidence with Microsoft releasing new drivers, etc. I suppose).

    Me, well, I have given up for now because I don’t have another computer to chance on it.

    I posted on the Forums about my experiences with Windows 7.

    After all my ‘fun’ and ending up with an invalid partition table when I tried to fixmbr, I just put in another hard drive and reinstalled Win2K and was going to forget about the beta entirely. Then the Win2K install saw all 4 partitions during the installation on the ‘no valid partition’ hard drive as well as the other two drives (one was sata). Odd thing was, it showed the win7 partition as F:. which wasn’t right according to the boot manager. I think maybe Win7 got confused and tried to look at one of the other two partitions?

    Anyway, after Win2K install I was still able to see those partitions! Didn’t need the software that I downloaded to view in ‘read only’ mode the invalid partitions. So I backed up all the data and will be reformatting the old Win2K partition where I found a hidden Boot folder which Win7 Beta put there. I installed Win2K on another physical drive’s first partition (and it didn’t have the hidden Boot folder on it).

    I have since read up on the Boot Manager and found I could go in and modify it. But I am not going to do that now that I have everything working again and got my data. Sure I had fairly recent backups so it wasn’t a major issue, but I did have to reinstall to another hard drive and all that work.

    I really thought I would be fine giving Win7 Beta it’s own partition to play in by installing it natively. I didn’t expect that it would screw up my other Windows partition like that.

    The next time I install it, it will be after I install Linux on that computer and install Virtual Box to install it so I can keep a leash on it.

  6. Scot Says:

    Hi, LilBambi. Your husband’s experience sounds more typical to me. He also has a larger sample size, which is critical to any serious beta evaluation, in my opinion. My evaluation here is based on a sample size of one, clean installed, I wiped the disk as part of the installation, and it was performed on a machine that didn’t have hardware problems with Vista. It was also the same machine that I installed the Windows 7 alpha on. I didn’t have any problems with installation or hardware configuration with this machine with Vista, Windows 7 alpha, or Windows 7 beta 1.

    In other words, I purposely picked a reliable, stable environment — one where I had the most likelihood of not seeing the kind of problems that some people had.

    That way, when I wind up reporting something like — there’s sluggishness akin to Vista — there’s less of a chance that there’s a variable introduced by my small sample size concerning the hardware I selected.

    There’s another factor that goes into my somewhat negative report on Windows 7 Beta 1: I am a longtime Windows reviewer. I’ve been here before, and there are patterns that concern me about Beta 1 being slower than the alpha that was released earlier. The same thing happened with Vista. It got slower and slower and more glitchy as the beta process wore on. Microsoft had stuffed so much stuff into it that even though it took things out, it was still overloaded. And it went ahead and shipped it that way, anyway.

    So, while Microsoft has reportedly reduced memory overhead and dumped some of the applications that came bundled with earlier versions of Windows, I remain skeptical that Windows 7 is significantly, fundamentally improved over Windows Vista. And after all, this is only Beta 1. It’s really too early to call.

    When high-profile reviewers like Walt Mossberg and David Pogue all but gush over Windows 7 Beta 1, praising it for performance, I find myself cringing inside. When you look back at what the press — including me — has said about previous Beta 1′s of previous new versions of Windows, it’s much the same. Many reviewers said the same things about Windows Vista Beta 1 and Windows ME Beta 1, two versions of Windows that were not fast and were problematic.

    I’m not saying that Windows 7 is a dud either. It’s too early to call either way. Beta 2, though, which may or may not be released publicly, and may arrive as soon as the second quarter, might give us a better picture of what the final code will be like. But I would not even begin to form conclusions about performance, yea or nay, until release candidates or gold code.

    LilBambi, your problem with your hard drive probably would have been there with Vista too, which works in the same way as far as I can tell. Microsoft made a break with the past with how it works with the bootloader beginning with Vista. People had similar problems with the Vista betas. I ran into some problems on some test machines with various prereleases of Vista, so I can sympathize.

    As you alluded to, it is possible to edit or repair the BCD. There are various utilities out there to help you with this. I’ve used Vista Boot Pro in the past, but there are others too, such as NeoSmart’s EasyBCD (which I have no experience with). Microsoft offers this bootstrap document to get you up to speed on BCD in Vista, and NeoSmart offers this helpful set of instructions: Recovering the Vista Bootloader with EasyBCD.

  7. gki610 Says:

    Just received this week’s list of Microsoft downloads, and using “Most Popular” in the right corner, this one, dated 1/9/2009 was #54, titled:
    Release Documents for this Beta Release of Windows 7. There are 2 downloads in it, maybe both are text or web pages for reading, but if I can add to your reviewing, I hope this helps.

  8. ddmak Says:

    Hi Scot,

    I downloaded Win7 beta a week ago and installed it into my Leopard MacBook using Apple Bootcamp. So far everything works as is, with the exception the the Apple wireless Mighty mouse doesn’t co-operate nicely. If the cursor is idle for about 10 seconds, the cursor will not move until I clik the mouse button, then it will move again.

    Like you, I don’t know how to get my other computers on the network to see ‘Homegroup’, but nevertheless, all the other computers on the network can see each other once I assigned Win7 to have the same workgroup name as other computers plus turned on sharing and tweaked the security. That turn out to be a piece of cake, probably because I have ironed all the connection issues long before I added Win7.

    Btw, my network consists of one Vista destkop (my main computer), one iMac using Tiger and one Macbook using Leopard dual boot with Win7. I used to have another computer in my network running WinXP. I decided to scrap the WinXP because it was getting too many computers around my place. :)

    I have been testing Win7 on and off for two weeks, mostly emails and web browsing. So far no negative items to report except IE8 cannot remember the previous session of tabs. My MacBook is two years old running at 2.0 GHz with the Intel 945 video card, so it is no speed demon, so I am planning to install OpenOffice and programs that’s for tweaking photos to give it further testing.

    That’s it for now,
    Dixon

  9. hughv2 Says:

    I clean installed the Beta on my AMD 1.0 GHZ/1 GB RM rig and it was quick and flawless. It also seemed to run more quickly than any Vista setup I’ve used.
    I got the impression that the Homegroup feature wasn’t going to work at all, unless I had other Windows 7 machines o the network, so I used the XP method to change the Workgroup name, etc., and had no problem. Later, I saw where to change the Password, so I have no problem with this change, even though it seems like change for its own sake.
    Imagine my surprise when I moved this machine to another location (Changing only the mouse, monitor and keyboard) and it would no longer boot. “Windows has encountered an unexpected shutdown”).
    After several attempts, I got a message “Windows 7 will not run on this hardware”. Very confusing.
    Subsequently, I downloaded the x64 version and upgraded my Vista install on an ASUS a8V Deluxe with 2.0 GB RAM. The upgrade adviser said I would have driver problems with my printer and the Promise FastTrak Controller, but that turned out to be false.
    I haven’t spent much time with this install yet, but it, too, seems faster than Vista , although no big improvement over XP.
    The upgrade seems to have lost some data, like FF bookmarks, but otherwise went smoothly.
    I suppose an upgrade from XP is inevitable, and I’ll learn to love the UI changes, but I’m not excited yet.

  10. Scot Says:

    Both of these last comments mentioned changing the Workgroup name in System Properties, which made me realize that I should have mentioned that. So here’s how you do that in Windows 7: Right click “Computer” on the desktop, choose System Protection (upper left part of screen), select the Computer Name tab, and then click the Change button. If you don’t have My Computer on your desktop, you can open the System Control Panel and follow the same steps. I’ll probably go back into the story and make this point.

    The thrust of this discussion was my surprise at having the workgroup name functionality removed from the Network and Sharing Center. That was a necessary part of those controls.

    Microsoft has just never, ever been able to figure out to provide a user interface for its kludgey peer networking functionality. It’s forever playing with the controls, attempting to get this right. Microsoft’s latest thinking appears to be that, by hiding UI controls, it is simplifying the user experience. If it wants to simplify process, it needs to go back and entirely overhaul how networking operates in Windows. It’s not about the control surfaces, it’s about the quirky networking functionality!

    – Scot

  11. Scot Says:

    Hughv2, my understanding is that Windows 7 will not be able to upgrade a Windows XP installation.

  12. dsteinschneider Says:

    Hi Scot,

    Appreciate hearing a more detailed and honest evaluation of Windows 7. I’ve been deploying Vista since Sep 2007 for most new desktops and laptops. The ones deployed before SP1 were painful but since SP1 I’ve haven’t had problems.

    My kids, frustrated by xbox failures, decided to return to PC gaming. With the help from overclocking forums and newegg commentors we assembled an E8500 3.16 Core 2 duo with 4GB OCZ memory, Seagate 640GB disk and an ATI 4870HD on a Gigabyte motherboard. The parts went together easily, the BIOS made it easy to optimize chip timings and Vista Ultimate installed itself with just a few prompts in about 20 minutes.

    I borrowed one of these boxes for work one day and couldn’t believe how fluidly Vista operated. Installs flew, screens popped up fully upon launch, files copied rapidly and a wide range of software worked fine. Its the most responsive OS/hardware combination I’ve used.

    Maybe everyone over at Microsoft has similar monster machines and are scratching their heads wondering why everyone is complaining about Vista performance :)

  13. tiagara Says:

    Scot,

    This is one of the best reviews of Windows 7 (beta) I’ve read. I, like you, feel that Microsoft isn’t really offering much new here. It seems to me that Microsoft is releasing a “new” operating system that may have well been released as a major service pack for Vista.

    The migration to “Windows Live” makes no sense either. While it may be convenient to “access your mail and pictures from anywhere”, it certainly opens new avenues for security breaches – I’m sure the hackers and other miscreants will have a field day with “Windows Live”.

    While Microsoft claims innovation it represents just another failed attempt to emulate Mac. Sadly, I think the days of innovation from Microsoft ended with Windows XP. They made Windows XP far too good and they appear to be in too much of a hurry to develop a really new, better, less resource-hungry, more innovative operating system.

    I would bet Apple is licking their chops over this. If Microsoft continues to emulate Mac and look to Apple for ideas, then it only makes sense to buy a Mac instead of a PC Mac wannabe.

    While Apple’s been busy innovating and introducing products like the iPod, iPhone, Air book – and improving their computers with fresh, new ideas, Microsoft seems to be concerned with its profit margin – hence Windows 7 is nothing but a huge Windows Vista service pack.

    They’ve just about ruined MS Office, “Windows Live” is a dumb idea, and now they’re going to spend tens of millions of dollars trying to convince an increasingly skeptical audience that Windows 7 is something new – and something they should spend $100+ on.

    I don’t know how much they’ve spend on the Mojave ads, but those didn’t come cheap. Anyone who knows computers knows the computers they showed “average users” were high-powered ones, devoid of programs, professionally tweaked, computers that even Windows ME would have run well on. I suppose some were fooled by those ads, but if they actually went out and bought Windows Vista, they weren’t fooled for very long.

    I see another series of ads coming as Microsoft attempts to convince customers that Windows 7 is the Windows they’ve been waiting for. As far as I can tell and apparently you agree – it isn’t the operating system anyone’s been waiting for – it’s just another attempt by Microsoft to generate huge amounts of revenue.

    I used to like Microsoft, but that was years ago when they actually had new ideas. In a way, it’s really sad to see it come to this; on the other hand Mac and various flavors of Linux might finally start cutting deeply into the Windows desktop market. And, that’s a good thing. Maybe the next time Microsoft releases a new version of Windows it will be with the idea of keeping Microsoft alive and viable instead of for the sole purpose of padding its bottom line and keeping anxious shareholders happy.

  14. Dave The Computer Guy Says:

    Guys, I am having a hard time reproducing the problems that some of you seem to be having. I open multiple windows and experience no slow downs.
    I figured out how to network and also change the homegroup password easily enough. So what tests could I run that will bring out the dark side of this OS?
    One of things I did was to make the usual Vista tweaks, like turn off windows defender, superfetch, and use the new system restore/shadow copy adjuster bar. Instead of 30 gigs, I set it for less than 2gigs…

  15. JETninja Says:

    Yeah, others also report no slowdowns. Latest Twitter Podcast loves it…..

    Also Scott, over the last 6 months Vista 64bit has really taken off, and all I ever read is how snappy and great it is as long as you have 4gb or more of Ram. With memory so cheap, no excuse.

  16. brucemccrory Says:

    So…. Do I learn to linux? Will MS learn to design snappy, functional operating systems during this depression we are moving into? Or, do I buy pencils and a typewriter when XP dies?

    Bruce

  17. Scot Says:

    Those of you who have no problems with Windows 7:

    Read the story I wrote again. I’m not saying there are serious problems with Windows 7. I’m saying there aren’t any significant improvements. Of course people are saying “it’s fast.” Most of them have just clean installed a new version of Windows and they’re comparing it with their Vista experience, which is laden down with a blizzard of background services.

    What I’m saying (apparently not that well) is that Windows 7 has the same problems as Vista. If you’ve got the latest, greatest super-fast PC, you won’t notice that so much. In my story, I’m not just comparing Windows 7 to Vista. I’m comparing it to OS X and Linux — both of which are incredibly fast compared to any version of Windows, even XP. What’s more, I’m comparing Windows 7 to XP because I still use that version of Windows.

    Microsoft is touting Windows 7 as being leaner and meaner. I’m saying: Don’t believe that in Beta 1. I did see signs of that in the November preview code release. And it got my attention. Unfortunately that hasn’t continued into Beta 1.

    Microsoft is as much in the business of selling new hardware as it is selling software. As I wrote in the conclusion of the story, Windows is perennially overtaxed. Each new major release seems to begin with the design premise that the OS can expand its footprint and suck up major portions of the available computing power toward the top end of the current hardware spectrum. Why does Windows continue to become more and more complicated with every major new release?

    Ever notice that we always smirk at Microsoft’s minimum system requirements? They’re always a joke? No one even talks about that with Linux. And no one talks about performance issues with the Mac, using the same hardware nowadays that Windows users get. That’s an important distinction that longtime Windows users rarely pause and consider.

    If you’ve been using Windows as an OS exclusively for the last 5 years or more, do yourself a favor: Install Ubuntu for a trial run or rent a Mac for a month. At the very least, I promise that either experience will be an eye-opener in the area of system performance and reliability

    – Scot

  18. VirtualGuy Says:

    Was listening to a podcast of Leo Laporte (The Tech Guy radio show) and he was all warm and fuzzy about Win 7, saying it was the operating system Vista should have been. He left no question as to his delight with Windows 7. So, your report is certainly an interesting contrast to his apparent experience. Or, at least, what he described in that particular podcast.

    I was planning to try the Win 7 beta on an old Intel P3 notebook. But, if Win 7 is just Vista with it’s bangs trimmed and it’s shirt pressed, that ain’t gonna work.

    To say that I hate Vista is putting it much too mildly. If Windows 7 resembles Vista in any way, I will either cling to XP until Microsoft gets it right, install Linux (Ubuntu) or attempt to inject my lovely new Core 2 Quad machine with a Mac OS. I’ve been reading up on this last option, but I’m not sure I’m ready for the challenge.

    The last thing I want is another operating system that is an overly complicated, overly bloated resource hog running a hundred background services with such cryptic descriptions that the friggin’ KGB couldn’t decode them. I am more convinced than ever that Microsoft is just a bunch of geeky twits who think the public are too stupid to see a new coat of paint on last year’s clunker.

    I appreciate your review of the Win 7 beta and will be watching for updates. Thanks!

  19. Scot Says:

    Hey, VirtualGuy, I think you should try Windows 7 for yourself on a clean partition, maybe on a second machine or virtual machine.

    Why? Let me put it this way, if someone pointed a gun at my head and said: Install Vista or Windows 7, I would have no hesitation in selecting Windows 7 right now.

    Besides, you never know … maybe I’m a disgruntled Mac user now. ;-) . My point of reference is very different from that of many Windows-only users.

    Seriously, I think every beta-experienced XP and Vista user should give Windows 7 a try (not installing as an upgrade on your production machine, though). Form your own opinion.

    Again, it’s not that Windows 7 is so bad. It just offers less improvement than I think is sufficient to get me excited about it.

    But I’ll keep trying it.

    – Scot

  20. John L. Galt Says:

    Scot,

    Something that you might be interested in:

    http://www.sevenforums.com/general-discussion/342-show-us-your-wei-16.html#post10171

    I posted there about a tweak I found because of W7 enabling NCQ by default, when some of us have it *disabled* or do not have the option to enable it. Lo and behold, performance increased *dramatically*. If you continue to read on in the thread, however, there are cases where this works and cases where it does not – further review has shown that this seems to occur almost exclusively on Seagate / Maxtor drives, and is able to be changed if you have an nForce based motherboard – installing the nForce 6/7 drivers will go a long way to allowing you to change this option. I cannot confirm this will work 100% on nForce 6 based motherboards, but it should work (and work well) on nForce 7 motherboards.

  21. OddTimeSig Says:

    I guess I try very hard to remain positive in a testing frame of mind but as I read a number of posts, one main thought I have needs to be shared and I truly hope Microsoft-at some point sees this. Vista was a new OS after XP but based on a number of concerns, security and the public wanting an OS they can believe in and feel secure about, I feel MS must make an investment. An honorable and trustworthy move with a touch of true marketing would be MS releasing Win 7 as ‘Vista SP2/Upgrade/Win 7.’ Furthermore, they should use June of 2009 as the option of upgrading to Win 7 at 50.00 or less for all current Vista holders while selling full versions at normal price. Their logic should simply be put as, “We promised and advertised Vista over the years as secure and the best operating system. We listened to the end user and Vista 2/Win7 is the result with an all around savings to the consumer for upgrades.” In retrospect, they will be offering an aspect of free upgrades for last minute purchases with Vista OSs prior to Win7 releases.

    Sorry I did not add any tech input but I truly feel this-as a start would truly have been a good move while also maintaining ears open for those such as Scott that are testing and providing true feedback that will most certainly make a difference..

  22. Scot Says:

    OddTimeSig:

    On the same day you posted, Microsoft announced that it would offer XP upgrades to Windows 7. What they mean by that is that there will be a discount on the price of Windows 7 for anyone who has an existing and valid Windows XP installation. You will have to clean install Windows 7 and reinstall all your applications. (One of my favorite features about the Mac is that you can do a clean install of Mac OS X and then import all of your application installations from another machine or your bootable backup or Time Machine backup of your previous installation. It’s a powerful advantage.)

    As to pricing, or, I think special pricing for Vista owners, which was the main thrust of your comment: Pricing is one of the very last things Microsoft reveals about any new operating system that it develops. We will likely hear about that a few weeks before Windows 7 ships.

    Would it be smart for Microsoft to offer an early-bird, special discount for current Vista owners? Yes, I fully agree that would be smart. The 1990s version of Microsoft would have definitely considered it. But Microsoft is not very end-user focused anymore. It is possible, though. Certainly, the utter failure of Vista in the marketplace warrants that. I think it’s more likely, though, that the software giant will develop some sort of discount or incentives for its enterprise customers to upgrade from Windows XP.

    Microsoft will be very focused on trying to kill XP once Windows 7 is done. Its Windows sales have been very poor over the last few years, and it needs to convert as many customers as it can.

    One final point: At a $50 price point to upgrade Windows Vista to Windows 7 Pro, Microsoft would still rake in plenty of profit. As a temporary (say 60 or 90 days) move, it would gain the company a lot of good will, and if Windows 7 is a healed version of Vista, that would be well worth the initial loss of profit over the long haul.

    – Scot

  23. KevinM Says:

    I’m seeing a lot of comparison’s to the Mac. To be fair, any comparison should be made on a machine with comparable hardware and specific drivers approved especially for Win7 by Microsoft. As is the hardware and drivers approved by Apple. Perhaps you could pay a Microsoft tech to do so with the difference in cost between the two systems.

  24. Scot Says:

    Feh. Dude, get a clue. The world is filled with personal computers. All of them run on Wintel-style hardware now. Hardware is no longer the great differentiator. I have studied this in depth in the past, and written volumes comparing Macs vs. PCs. That is so three years ago, though.

    How about a comparison of Windows 7 and the Mac running on the same computer? Read on.

    Bottom line, Windows 7 is beta software. I don’t do final performance testing on beta software. So what you’re reading is first impressions. Try to get that in your mind. This is not scientific. And nothing you read that tries to be scientific about Windows 7 is truly meaningful.

    – Scot

  25. wrecklass Says:

    I’ll be honest I see a lot of people doing benchmarks and performance tests of Windows in Virtual Machine environments, and I find it puzzling. While VM technology has gone a long way, there are still many questions around abstraction layers and resource sharing that makes me think any performance based on a VM should be taken with a bag of salt.

    Give me raw hardware numbers, and I’ll have a basis for comparison.

  26. Scot Says:

    wrecklass: I take it that you have read the last post before yours, and you’re not calling for me to provide this information? Instead, you’re frustrated with my competition, right?

    Might be more effective to post that sort of sentiment there. Just a thought.

    FWIW, I only use virtual machines to test user experience and expand my pool of testbeds to check for variability. I would never objectively test a virtual machine for performance. Frankly, though, performance testing of operating systems is a bit of a myth. None of your favorite reviewers is performance testing in any meaningful way. And even the few publications who do attempt this wind up with questionable data, IMO. The performance test is the experience of millions in the real world. It’s the only one that matters.

    Another point about virtualization: Windows 7′s ability to run well in virtual machines is something that I hold Microsoft (as well as the virtualization software makers) accountable for. So testing in virtual machines is a good thing, just not performance testing.

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