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A First look at Windows 7.
By: Steve Adams. G0KVZ
As presented to the Vange Amateur Radio Society 22nd Jan 2009

Microsoft windows has been a dominant force since Win3 made an appearance in 1980, back then, most computer users (except for canny apple users) were familiar with MS-DOS, that required knowledge of command line instructions, and had rather poor graphics.
Windows 3 was a different story, it ushered in the use of a mouse as an inoput device, and boasted much improved graphics.

Since the mid 1980's, we have seen successive incarnations of windows:
1985 - Windows 1.0
1987 - Windows 2.0
1990 - Windows 3.0
1982 - Windows 3.1 followed by wfw3.11
1995 - Windows 95
1998 - Windows 98
2000 - Windows 2000
2000 - Windows ME
2001 - Windows XP
2006 - Windows Vista
2009 - Windows 7 (beta)

The reception of Windows Vista has been very poor, Most IT professionals advise quite strongly to avoid this Operating system, and although Microsoft have always defended Vista quite strongly; they have just released a beta copy (both 32 and 64 bit) of their new operating system called 'Windows 7'

Downloading this software is quite simple, there are links to the download area from the Microsoft site, or simply do a search on Google. You will need a Microsoft Passport, but in reality, this is just a valid hotmail, or live e-mail address.

Once you proceed through the various screens, you will be given a Product key for the software. The download is in the form of an image that will need burning to a DVD-ROM, the 32bit version is 2.43Gb, and the 64bit version is 3.15Gb

The minimum specification is:

    *  1 GHz 32-bit or 64-bit processor
    *  1 GB of system memory
    *  16 GB of available disk space
    *  Support for DirectX 9 graphics with 128 MB memory (to enable the Aero theme)
    *  DVD-R/W Drive
    *  Internet access (to download the Beta and get updates)

Warning: Watch the calendar. The Beta expires on August 1, 2009 Although there are cracks available on the internet to overcome this, but I would strongly recomend against using such methods, as results can be unpredictable, and trojans are often spread via hacks and cracks.

A quick search of Google for Windows 7 results in a number of reviews from the usual Gates bashers to the Windows exponents who think that Microsoft can do no wrong.
Many of the reviews claim that Win7 is just a polished up Vista.
At this early stage (remember this is still a beta) the best way to form an objective opinion is to try it for yourself.

Installation of the product was a breeze, within 35 minutes, my system was up and running. My first observation is that my on-board sound card was not recognised, which is rather disapointing. (Ubuntu does this automatically)
The graphics card in my test computer isn't capable of supporting DirectX9, so the aero interface wasn't enabled.
Apart from these niggles, the GUI seems rather polished, and that really annoying side bar is nowhere to be seen, this is a great start, as the sidebar on Vista is reported to be a major cause of crashes.
Boot time is really improved - After the POST on my machine, Windows is now up and ready to go in under a minute.
The Shutdown control on the Start Menu is much improved, and mow gives you really useful options.
The Action Center's clearly labeled options should make it easier for all to set their system security preferences with confidence, manage backups, and troubleshoot minor performance problems or return to a previous restore point if things go wrong.
Windows 7 adds networking improvements that Vista and XP lacked. One of the most significant of these is HomeGroups, which gives structure to the process of sharing devices and media files over a home network.
It is reported that applications open more quickly than those in vista, but can't verify this.
I have only had the operating system installed for about three days as I write this, and haven't tried any other applications yet, so I have plenty of further experiments to perform time permitting.
If you have a spare PC, or HDD, I would simply say "Give it a go" it costs nothing, and it's as easy as pie!


five excerpts from professional reviews follow:

Infoworld: "I have seen the future, and it is bleak. Windows 7, the next big version, the one that was supposed to fix everything that was wrong with Vista, is here (at least in pre-beta form), and I can now say - with some confidence - that Microsoft has once again dropped the ball.
"Overall, I'm extremely disappointed with Windows 7. Far from atoning for Vista's sins, Windows 7 simply carries them forward, visiting them upon yet another generation. Windows 7 is no panacea. Rather, it's just more of the same: slow, bloated, and frustrating as hell."

The Register: "When it comes to Windows 7, Microsoft hasn't just learned from the mistakes of Windows Vista. It has picked up a thing or two from Apple's OS X, judging by first impressions.

Techradar: "It's not clear how big the changes are so far. If you put the beta-build of Windows 7 side-by-side with Windows Vista, you'd be hard-pressed to spot the differences. Yes, some of the icons look slightly different and there's no sidebar, but it's essentially still the Vista look and feel. But that changes when you start to use Windows 7. "For a start the OS won't nag you as much; many notifications are banished to a control panel, you get to approve icons before they show up in the system tray and Microsoft has reined in Vista's useful but annoying UAC prompts; you can choose which ones you want to see or turn them off altogether."

ZDNet: "Initially Windows 7 looks similar to Vista, but there a lot of new features that have been added. Under the skin, Microsoft has been working hard. Boot times have been reduced, and certainly the review laptop Microsoft provided has a fairly snappy boot time. "Microsoft has been working with OEMs to improve battery life - simple things such as reducing the timer frequency can improve battery life by up to 10 per cent. The networking stack has had new diagnostics added to help users figure out exactly where the problem lies.

PC Magazine: "So, is this all a big deal? It's not a change to the fundamental core of Windows, and most of the improvements sound relatively small. But taken together, they seem to address many of the issues people have had for Windows. I'm looking forward to trying it out, starting this afternoon."