My school’s MSDN Academic Allicance portal recently got updated with the long awaited Microsoft Windows 7 release candidate ISO image. Now that finals are over, my computer isn’t constantly tied up with seemingly never ending homework assignments or school projects, so I’ve had a chance to take the wraps off Windows 7 64-Bit.Upon the conclusion of a relatively pain free installation (virtually identical to VISTA’s by the way) I was somewhat surprised to discover that several devices had not been recognized or installed properly. When VISTA 64-Bit first came out, drivers for less than 60% of my beat up VAIO VGN-FZ240e notebook even existed; so I guess I was expecting a couple of snags. Fortunately the only devices Windows 7 64-Bit didn’t install properly were:
- TI pcixx12 Integrated Flashmedia Controller (download a working 64-Bit driver)
- Sony Firmware Extension Parser Device (download a working 64-Bit driver)
- Alps Touchpad Pointing-Device (download a working 64-Bit driver)
After a bit of poking around, I found working 64-Bit VISTA drivers for each at Sony and apparently they also work with Windows 7. So without further ado, here are my top 10 favorite new Windows 7 features:
1. Programming and statistics modes are now available in Calculator.
2. Backup to a thumb drive, network drive or dvd drive. Its all good and it works great.
3. Burn an ISO image to disc without Roxio, Nero, or ImgBurn.
4. See what networks you’re connected to and what’s available by clicking the status icon in the task bar.
5. Create or restore from a system image file.
6. Folder options are easily accessible and highly customizable. Showing hidden files takes just one click. Creating favorite folder links is easy.
7. Powershell. Finally a real shell in Windows. It even supports some UNIX commands.
8. Generate beautiful math equations with your mouse and without LaTeX.
9. The interactive task bar. See progress, status and previews of what’s open and running on your desktop.
10. Program specific recent file list. See what recent documents you used in each application.
Now these are the top ten features I liked in Windows 7 64-bit. I’m certain that there will be changes as time goes on. That said, there were also a few things I didn’t like. Here they are:
1. It still takes too many clicks to get to the network adapters folder. Granted, I’m a network/system administrator by training and frequently make changes to my network adapters. I just have no use for the network and sharing center and it just seems like an intermediary click for me to get to my network adapters.
Why can’t I just access the my network adapters directly from the control panel for instance? Do I really have to go to the network and sharing center first and remember the link (whose description has changed again from what it was in VISTA) that takes me there? I guess it’s easy enough to make a shortcut once found, but it’s the principal for me. Why hide these settings?
2. Microsoft Paint. It looks promising at first (with the office 2007ish face lift), but after inspection it really isn’t much of an improvement over previous versions. A few new shapes and brushes and that’s it. Would it hurt to have a few of the image adjustment tools available in MS Paint? A way to adjust the brightness, contrast, red-eye, etc?
3. Internet Explorer 8. Why can’t IE get tabs and password saving right? I went over to Firefox after TabMixPlus and haven’t found anything even close to this functionality in any other browser. If you want me to use IE again, let me customize the tab behavior like the Firefox TabMixPlus addon does and let me save & lookup my passwords like Firefox does.
4. What happened to Windows Movie Maker? With Windows DVD maker I can add video’s to DVD’s, but I can’t edit movies.
5. My Sony MotionEYE video camera (which is built into my notebook) does not work. It’s not only a driver issue because there isn’t even any hardware device for it in the device manager. So even if I did have a driver for it, I couldn’t install it. I believe the Sony video camera is a model VCC8 but I’m not 100% certain. Either way it doesn’t work in Windows 7 x64.
I’m sure there’ll be more things to add to this list as well, but for now I am happy to report that the pros out weigh the cons and so far I’m pleased with my experience on Windows 7. I should add a note of caution for early adopters. I was also pleased with VISTA post sp1 and I’ve since come to regret ever upgrading to VISTA. Just one year after my original installation VISTA (even with all patches) became so slow it was virtually impossible to use.
Gallery of all screen shots taken for this article