Thursday, September 10, 2009

Windows 7

...or 6.1?

I skipped Vista (except for one machine in the lab that we have to run it on because a certain bit of microscopy software won't work with anything else). By the way, even on a pretty high-powered Dell Precision 690 workstaion with 12 GB of RAM and a medium/high-end Nvidia graphics card, Vista (64-bit) is still slow, annoying, and about as painful to use as Windows 98 on Jen's 233 MHz Pentium laptop she used in college. But this post isn't about Vista, it is about how much better Windows 7 is than Vista.

Since the Windows 7 Beta was released to the public on 1/9/09, I've ignored the advice not to run this on production machines and installed it on the second partition of my MacBook Pro. Through the Beta, the Release Candidate, and now with the RTM freshly installed, I've gotten the feeling that Windows 7 is finally giving Mac OS X a run for it's money (that is, until 10.6 came out). A few observations:
  1. Windows 7 is way faster than Vista, and is even faster than Windows XP on my machine.
  2. From the Beta through the RTM, it has been the most stable version of Windows I've ever used. I even ran a data analysis loop using IGOR Pro overnight and it didn't crash.
  3. The windows management—docking right, left, and top; aero previews, etc.—is actually a bit superior to the Mac. I really like being able to throw one window to the right of the screen and one to the left in order to compare their contents side-by-side. This works especially well on multiple monitors.
  4. Taskbar and Start Menu search make organizing and finding applications and files incredibly easy—comparable to Quicksilver on the Mac.
  5. Much like Mac OS X, there are just a lot of incremental changes that show that the developers paid good attention to detail to enhance the overall experience.
I'm still convinced that running Windows 7 on a MacBook Pro is best. The Mac still has a few design advantages over PCs that make it easier to use (like two-finger scrolling on the touchpad instead of that annoying side-scroll strip). But Windows 7 as a product is easily as good as Mac OS 10.5. With the advent of 10.6, Apple still seems to be one step ahead, integrating higher performance features into the OS in a user-friendly way—just check out the new services for an example. Not to mention that it is way easier to backup Windows from another partition (the Mac OS X one) on the same machine than from within Windows itself.

In sum, Windows 7 is a huge step in the right direction for Microsoft and upgrading from Windows XP was a no-brainer.

1 comment:

  1. It's important that people DO upgrade because XP doesn't know how to take advantage of newer multi-core CPUs like 7 does. That's also part of why it might be a little quicker than XP. A lot has changed in CPUs since 2002 when XP came out.