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Windows 7: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

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If you have ever climbed up a sand dune you understand the meaning of the catch phrase,
two steps forward, one step back.
If you are a Microsoft Windows user, or you are in the 85% of Mac users who also own a Windows PC (according to NPD Group's 2009 Household Penetration Study) then you have also been subject to the truth of this proverb.

I am not going to harp on Vista, which seems to be the new favorite pastime of many tech bloggers, I am going to acknowledge it as an important stepping stone to Windows 7. Windows 95 and XP were solid steps forward and Vista was the step that sunk back. Windows 7 has taken the next step forward and that is good for all of us, even if it did piggy back on some features of our other favorite operation system.

Starting off, Windows 7 has made the appropriate increases and decreases. Windows 7 decreases the install time and the boot time so now you can start working as soon as your pop-tarts are done microwaving. It increases your battery life by monitoring and trimming down energy sucking background activities. This allows you to actually watch more than one episode of Lost you pirated (Ed. note: Oops, did we let him say that?) without having to plug in.

Windows 7 decreases the amount of memory that it take to open new application windows. This is fantastic for those of us who multitask e.g. Working in Photoshop, snooping google for images, listening to Pandora, and Instant Messaging your mother who just discovers what IMing was.

Windows 7 Increases support for 64-bit systems and multi-core processors. This is great for running calculation intense programs such as CS4. If you ask what is CS4 then do not worry about it, it just makes it go really fast and we will tell you when you're older. But, for those of you who do know and aren't designing on a Mac then you are in luck.

There are not too many issues popping up if you are upgrading from Vista to Windows 7. If you are having to fresh start because you stayed with XP then there might be a few minor problems, but hop over to Adobe and read some of the blogs and it should sort out with only minor hair pulling. Once you get started you will see a noticeable few seconds shaved off when working with high res photos in Photoshop and when you reluctantly Live Trace when in a hurry in Illustrator.

Speaking of design, Windows 7 has added something that will excite the kid in us, but only if that kid decided to shell out extra for a snazzy touch screen. Windows 7's Paint program is actually quite entertaining, being able to finger paint without getting messy, which is good for not just for the kid in you but for actual kids too. Windows 7 touts Multi-Touch but it really should say Duo-Touch. Add a third finger and your magenta paint brush makes a funky zig-zag trying to decide which two fingers it likes better. The Duo-Touch is fine for the iPhone-esque pinch zooming and other actions. Just don't move too quickly, or it might think a scroll is the jump menu swipe. It also has the cool concept of copy and paste actions, which turn out to be more fun to think about then to actually implement. But hey, it wouldn't be Windows with out it and it is a step in the right direction.

So, Windows 7 is full of cool interface additions and eye catching shininess that pass as productivity enhancements. However, the true test will be over time. It will take rigorous testing to prove that Windows 7 is as stable as XP and as speedy as it seems.

First Microsoft must prove that Windows 7 is actually an upgrade before the majority of the business sector will jump in. It is about time that Microsoft delivers a solid OS and stops being the leading factor for hair loss in America.  As a Mac user,  actually I am excited to see the first Windows OS to intrigue me enough to consider running Parallels. If only Balmer didn't discourage me so much by putting a $300 plus full price tag on the Ultimate Edition.

Garrett N. Nelson
October 14, 2009

Sources:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/features/default.aspx

The NPD

Laptop Mag Blog
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Author:blitzg05
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by:lherrou
Nice article. I've given it a "Yes" vote. Not sure I'm ready to give Windows 7 a "Yes" vote yet, but then again, I still am running Win2k on two of the 5 machines that surround me right now (Win2K/Linux dualboot, Win2K, XP, Vista Home, Vista Pro).
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by:SLeepdepD
I've been using Windows 7 since August.  I put it on my computer, my wife's computer and my netbook.  I agree that the majority of changes I've encountered have been in the interface but I haven't encountered any driver or application compatibility issues.
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by:Jenn Prentice
Garrett,
I really enjoyed this article and would love to have you continue to write for E-E! Thanks so much!
-Jenn
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by:Kevin Cross
Good one.
Voted yes above.
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by:wolfcamel
not sure how well it will run under parallels but it would be interesting to see
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by:tigermatt
A nice, well written article. Gets my "Yes" vote above.
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by:satsumo
I've yet to see any article that gives a convincing argument for upgrade.  The pros (mostly little UI tweaks) never come close to the cons (slower, less free memory).  It seems to be upgrade for the sake of upgrading.  I'm really not anti MS, they just haven't done anything positive for a long while.
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by:LarcenIII
Why would you pirate lost when you can download it for free from ABC's website?¿?

LOL, great article, I my thoughts don't exactly align, but I totally agree that Vista bashing is many tech's favorite pastime. I find that completely irrational, from adding a much needed (even if minimal) memory test to precaching much better than XP, Vista actually has some great points. I have 8GB of ram, and in XP 64 I NEVER came close to using it. Unless you're loading up Autocad and 100 Drawing, XP will still try to manage your memory on a smaller scale.

Same PC in Vista, I have 60 websites open refreshing often (3 Different Gmail Accounts)  and not the slightest delay in switching Windows... hmmmm....

And gaming you get a slightly Lower frame rate, because your CPU in under more stress, but who cares? Most games work better with a single core, but if you have a dual core, set the game's process affinity to a single core, and BAM, that missing frame comes back. It's not rocket science people!

That works for anything CPU intensive and not designed for multicore by the way.

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by:ModernMatt
Off-topic link removed.

ModernMatt
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by:SLeepdepD
For me, the "cool interface additions" in Windows 7 are actually productivity enhancements, so much so that I realize "oh, that's right" when I try to use them on my Windows XP computer at work and they're not there.

Windows XP is very stable but it's also eight years old.  Every time I install it I also have to install 8 years worth of hotfixes and service pack.  And hardware is starting to outgrow it.  I've been using Windows 7 since August.  I've installed it on my computer, my wife's computer (which is 5 years old) and my 1 GB RAM, 16 GB hard drive netbook.  I've had no problems--no errors, blue screens, no application or driver incompatibility issues.  Windows XP still does work very well, but in this industry you have to keep up on new technology.
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by:Ossie_Jesson
I  HAVE USED WINDOWS 7  SINCE MAY  ON AN OPTIPLEX  DESTOP AND A 6 YR OLD LAPTOP. ON BOTH MACHINES  IT HAS PROVED TO BE VERY STABLE AND RELIABLE . ALL MY  [32BIT ] APPLICATIONS   ARE FUNCTIONING  WELL ON THE 64 BIT VERSION OF THE WIN 7 OS .
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by:satsumo
It amazes me that people think a new OS becasue it works.  Is that an achievement?  Given that the OS you had worked why not stay with it?  It's as though people have a lemming like desire to get the newest version without ever giving any though to what the benefits are.  It must be better becasue its new.  What do you do with 7 do that you couldn't with XP?

People also say that its fast, and yet the OS they had was faster, it's only fast if you upgrade the machine it runs on.  Strangely, people 'upgrade' to 7, despite their PC having less memory when they do.  The term upgrade suggests something gets faster and bigger (hence the use of 'up').  They could just remove some of their ram chips and call it an upgrade.
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by:LarcenIII
satsumo:

What?

Same machine Windows XP dual Boot with 7

Guess which is faster? Win7
Which reads all 8 GB of Ram? Win7
Which one is easier? Win7

Why is because it works an achievement? Your opening statement sense does make not it?
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by:satsumo
The first line was a typo, it was mean't say 'People think a new OS is good simply because it works'.  The comments above say that people are happy because Win 7 functions and is stable.  They don't seem to be expecting any actual improvements.

Your test case is fine though simplistic.  What if the PC in question has 1GB or 2 GB of ram?  Assuming you will say they could upgrade it, what advantage would that get apart from being able to run the OS?  When you say Win 7 is faster, what operations are you talking about exactly, and what do you mean by easier?  Do the two system have the same software installed?  Have they been in use for the same amount of time?

The advantages of one OS over another are rarely ever given in concrete terms.  Smoother, easier, better, even nicer to look at are subjective.  Fact says that each OS uses more of your PC's power to do the same work.  It takes about four times as much RAM to look at this page when using win 7 over XP.  However, the page looks and functions exactly the same way.
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by:LarcenIII
I have a netbook with 512 MB ram, and a four GB solid State Flash Drive that also performs extremely well with Win7 compared to WinXP, although I had to make modifications to the installer to tell Win7 to ignore the drive size requirement. It required a CD Burner and Microsoft's OEM kit.

I'm not the only one happily running Win7 on a Netbook, Win7 Scales wonderfully, WinXP does not scale at all, it's not made to scale at all.

Win7 adds extra "New" features, if the hardware can support, unlike Vista. Vista on a Netbook is a major challenge due to the services that are required to keep the basic functionality, whereas Win7 easily downsizes it's self to fit it's environment.

Can't do complex 3D graphics? Win7 turns all that off. Vista? Only turns off what won't work. Win7 tries to use the maximum amount of memory, for caching, and making the computer more responsive, yet at the same time, if there's not enough room, it doesn't cache as aggressively. I absolutely love that I'm not having to go into WinXP registry and tweet it for max performance anymore.

The networking setup In Vista and 7 aren't a big favorite for me MS could have kept that the same and I'd have been happier, but the fact that they removed the half open connection limit in Win7 makes up for it. You only setup or change your IP address rarely anyway. (But setting up many computers, it's a pain)

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