Windows 7 Beta: First Impressions

Windows 7 Beta has been out for a little while now, and I finally decided I’d give it a shot. So I downloaded the install from Microsoft (pretty hefty, weighing in at about 4gb), got my activation key and was off to the races. After a rather long download (about an hour and a half), I loaded the image to my USB Flashdrive and restarted my computer, booted from it and began the install. That took about 20 minutes, then after the reboot started setting up for first time use.

At first glance, Windows 7 is very reminiscent of Vista (which up until very recently I would’ve had to hold back the gagging at the very mention of), but as soon as the task bar loads and you get to fiddling with it, you start to get the feeling that Vista was the ugly step sister to 7’s Cinderella.

Obviously if you’ve been keeping up with any Windows 7 news, you’ve heard praises about the new task bar, and possibly also some stuff about how it’s a rip from OS X’s dock, but hey if it works, why not use it? Yes it is the same concept, but it’s executed slightly different. But regardless of who came up with it first, I love it. Being able to dock frequently used apps for easy access and also combining that same icon as it’s icon for a window’s minimized state…I love it. The fact that the background can be turned into a slide show is pretty cool. The new library system is pretty interesting, you can create libraries in which you can include multiple folders that relate to each other for easy management in one place. The default libraries are the Documents , Pictures, Music, and Videos Libraries.

Something I noticed was that paint finally got a make-over, it now uses a similar ribbon interface like Office 2007.

Overall, in the 5 days that I’ve used it so far, crashes have been minimal and since it runs of the same core as Vista, anything that I was able to run in Vista runs fairly reliably (meaning as reliably as it did in Vista) on Windows 7. So fare I’ve installed Firefox, Skype, iTunes and Avast! Antivirus, and all are running reliably, with the exception of a hiccup with the release version of Skype, I had to install Skype 4 Beta 3 for it to run…I guess beta’s get along. No blue screens of death thus far, although I’ve read that some have experienced at least one during their trials.

So overall, from what I’ve seen so far and been able to mess with, If Microsoft stays on this course, Windows 7 has the potential to be the best Windows release to date. The GUI improvements are nice, it’s taxation on system resources is reduced to that of Vista, and it just has an overall comfortable feel. You use it and you feel like this is the way Windows is supposed to be. Microsoft, you may finally have a winner on your hands!