I hadn’t considered Windows 7 for my PC build. I started planning in December and had pretty much ignored the stories about when the beta would be available. I didn’t want to be running beta software on a PC I had just built and I didn’t want to have to worry about software compatibility and whether the problem was hardware or software.
I just made a u-turn and did a fresh install of Windows 7 on my newly built PC. It was abrupt because I wanted to flatten the Vista installation before activation kicked in and I burned up the activation key. While definitely beta, the stories indicate it’s a pretty solid beta and not like the first Vista beta which was a nightmare. Still, I was expecting to regret my decision. I’m pleasantly surprised that I have no regrets (at least so far).
The download was quick despite the file sizes. The 64-bit version is 3.15GB while the 32-bit version is 2.44GB. I’ll be using the 64-bit version although I did download the 32-bit version and get a license key in case I need it. Microsoft is using Akamai to do the download so that probably helps with the speed. I’m not entirely convinced the initial download problems weren’t a PR stunt so Microsoft could say Windows 7 was more popular than expected. You do have to install a download manager active-x control to handle the download. Probably not a bad idea with such large files but the desktop icon it added annoys me. The help screen mentions java and active-x so it’s likely Firefox users aren’t excluded and would get the java based download manager.
The file names include the word “ultimate”, I hope that doesn’t mean Microsoft is planning to use the same product segmentation as they did for Vista.
Be sure to read the release notes if you’re installing Windows 7 and be sure to get the MP3 patch to avoid destroying your MP3 library. Read about it here. (This patch was installed by Windows Update for me although it sounds like it wasn’t always in Windows Update.)
I selected custom install so I could do a fresh install. I never do an OS upgrade, either Windows or OS X, and always take the opportunity to do a clean install. Even though my Vista install was less than 3 days old I decided on the same approach. The install was smooth and the only two “bangs” (unidentified hardware flagged by a yellow exclamation mark in device manager) were “Coprocessor” and “SM Bus Controller”. Despite those, everything seemed to be running fine. I installed the Vista 64 drivers for my motherboard, ignoring the video and network drivers as both those seemed to be working fine and I don’t want to mess with those critical components. This cleared the bangs and I now have a clean install. Windows Update does tell me that there’s a video driver update from NVidia available but I’ve held off installing it. (This was there for Vista too.)
I’ve yet to come across a software compatibility problem while installing the software although admittedly I haven’t done a lot with the installed software. Most of the software is running as 32-bit and when it matters they see the OS as Vista. So far I’ve got:
Windows Home Server – Vista 64 connector used. The console runs fine and backups are occurring on schedule.
AVG Free Anti-virus – I’m not using the toolbar or the e-mail scanner (by choice) but the basic anti-virus installed fine.
Evernote – The Windows client installed and seems to run fine. I haven’t used the browser integration yet.
Dropbox – No issues, syncs fine
Microsoft Live Mesh – Still in the tech preview stage itself but installed and syncs fine. I don’t have remote access enabled.
Wakoopa – I don’t track web apps but has worked fine so far.
Core Temp – Seems to run fine.
AnyDVD and Clone DVD – DVD ripping and copying software works fine. (I don’t use these to burn physical DVDs.)
Firefox – works fine as do the Evernote Web Clipper, Delicious Bookmarks, Foxmarks, Google Gears, Greasemonkey, NoScript and Stop Autoplay add-ons. I want to force myself to use IE 8, at least for awhile, so I don’t have Firefox set as my default browser. (I don’t expect this to last long.)
Windows Live Essentials – I installed Mail, Photo Gallery, Toolbar (despite my toolbar disdain), Writer, Silverlight and the Movie Maker Beta although I’ve yet to dig into any of them.
The Windows Experience score is slightly better than it was under Vista:
I’ve started up a new section dedicated to Windows 7.