Windows 7 – initial thoughts.

Well, this past weekend I finally got around to installing windows 7, virtualized of course.  I obtained a copy via vmWare/bit torrent which came nicely packed for use on my macBook Pro/vmWare fusion.  It probably makes sense to quickly describe my machine, I’m running a late 2008 macBook Pro (aluminum body) with the 2.93Ghz proc w/4GB ram, 320GB 7200 RPM hard drive.  I have Windows Vista installed via bootcamp so I can boot into Vista natively for development purposes, mostly visual studio team suite, which works like a dream.

Since I’m not quite ready to use win7 as my primary [windows] OS, I decided to opt for a virtual image to test the waters.  I have seen a number of [microsoft] presentors lately running win 7 as their primary OS’ and early feedback seems positive, but needless to say, I can’t [yet] take that risk.  Inital install was seemless, as the vmWare image was nicely packed and easy to mount.  I initially wanted to run the image from my western digital 500GB mybook studio (w/fire 800) however, I have the drive formatted with fat32 so I can utilize it from both the osX and Vista partitions, but that’s a whole other story.  Instead, I dropped the image on the mac partition and off it went.

First observation was, “wow” it boot in a fraction of the time my vista install does so I was off to a good start.  One thing to keep in mind is, if you’re using vmWare fusion, be sure to increase the default settings, in my case i granted win7 access to both cpu’s and 2gb of memory.  A few quick performance tests (nothing harsh) indicated prety good performance, noticely better than when i run Vista through vmWare (via Boot Camp partition) – but Vista still beats it when running natively, obviously.

With only 2gb of ram (ha, i said only) the OS easily worked through standard ‘administrative tasks’ outlook/visio, expression2, and sql 2008.  MS clearly spent time optimizing the ‘percieved’ performance of screen transitions and file transfers.  The system if very fluid and i barely noticed i was working within a virtual instance!

To continue with my “beta” box, is started to load up browsers; firefox 3.0.7/chrome & safari 4 – in which i began to experience issues.  Firefox and chrome seemed to work without flaw, (ie 8 is also quite nice) but safari 4 crashed it three times, the os would just lock up and forced me to restart via vmWare.  A little dissapointing, as I was looking forward to checking out the new safari drop.

Essentially, win 7 is pretty sharp.  I’ll leave all the ‘new features’ to the analysts, as there are a few noteworthy new things.  To me, it is all about UX (user experience) – even though I’m not a vista-hater, hell I’ve been running it for months before RTM, i’ve learned to work around most of the [minor] issues, once upgrading to beefy hardware of course.  I do expect however, win7 to win over a wider audience, as it appears Microsoft listened to feedback from users, speeding up common tasks and removing alot of the pain points – sure they “reverse-engineered” some features, but overall it has been a surprising usable beta, which i expect will be a much anticiapted upgrade.

To me, you know microsoft is doing something right when you begin to hear Mac folks begin to describe the idea of checking out the new OS, seems win7 has a respectable ‘buzz’ on the street!  In any event, i’ve enjoyed my initial time with it and am going to try to incorporate it into my daily life to see how it holds up under some additional stress.  If you haven’t had the chance to check it out, i’d strongly encourage you to take a look.  Whether you’re interested in running a beta as a virtual machine (parells, vmWare, virtualPC, hyperV, etc.) – i suspect you’ll be impressed – again, assuming you’re running it on a healthy machine.  If beta’s aren’t your thing, i’d suggest you take some time to read up on the improvements coming down the pipe and jump at the opportunity to get a copy of it in your labs, once it ships.  I understand it’s going to have about the same footprint as a vista box, so it probably won’t be a great upgrade from aging XP machines, but if you’re still running alot of XP boxes, it’s probably time to upgrade your hardware anyway – heck, Dell is practively giving away machines.  btw – we also just picked up a new studio XPS (from dell) with the new i7 quad-core processor – that thing screems!  Be sure to go with 64bit, and buy as much memory as you can afford.

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