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



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