The official release of Windows 7 is only a few weeks away, and if you're anything like me, you're probably asking yourself what effect this will have on your lives. Will the gates of Heaven open up and a consort of large breasted angels descend to guide you into computing heaven? Or will it be more of a low key affair, maybe involving the cast of Friends and a degrading video?
So I decided to apply my powerful brain to the problem, and find out what Windows 7 would mean for you, the average user. With only pre-release versions and betas available for download, to get a copy of the actual release version, I had to turn to eBay, where leaked copies have shown up recently. $150 and two days later, a package of bubble wrapped, technological delights arrived on my doorstep. I giddily tore open the packaging to reveal the contents.
Son. Of. A. Bitch.
Also included, but not pictured, was a small note from the seller, making some pretty inflammatory claims about my mental capacity. I took the matter up with eBay Fraud Protection, but they had similarly unkind things to say about my Internet savvy, only they used longer words. So, my attempts to get my money back from UR_a_Ediot67 were at a standstill. Unfortunately, I still had a column to produce, and as "23 Reasons Punching a Wall Really Hurts" didn't have the sort of broad appeal I normally like to include in my articles, I decided to plow ahead with my original plan. So below I present my review of "Windows 7.
Very difficult. The install for Windows 7 comes on four floppy disks, and as my laptop doesn't have a floppy drive, I was worried Id have to travel 10 years into the past to find a computer that did. Fortunately, my local Best Buy was offering a USB floppy drive for $80, which, not withstanding certain recent software purchases, struck me as the greatest ripoff the world has ever seen. I'd advise anyone wanting to install Windows 7 on their own machine should make sure their hardware can support it.
After that rocky start, the rest of the installation went relatively smooth, although I had to fiddle with the BIOS settings to get the floppy to boot. I chose to install all the options, including something called Microsoft Fax, simply because it sounded fucking amazing. After the install, the computer rebooted without incident, and I was up and running.
Terrible. I don't have any particular exotic hardware on my system, but Windows 7 still struggled to find drivers for basically everything. Screen resolution was limited to 640 x 480, and my external mouse didn't work because apparently Windows 7 doesn't have USB support. Bizarre. Ill spare you the details of what I had to do to get the wireless working, but lets just say it involved 27 hours of crying.
Finally got the Internet working!
Windows 7 comes packaged with Internet Explorer 2.0, which I will admit to being a little disappointed with. It can render text and images however, which if you think about it, is probably the most important 40 percent of the Internet anyways.
The flying Window icon lets you know the Internet is working.
Set Up The Microsoft Network
Right in the desktop was a link to something called The Microsoft Network which the instruction manual promised would provide the unheard of ability to use chat rooms or check the weather. Unfortunately, the set up didn't seem to work--it evidently requires a phone line to work, and I don't actually have one of those. So be advised that to fully utilize Windows 7, and experience all of its weather checking glory, you'll require some pretty specialized telecom equipment.
Long File Names
While checking the manual, I noticed that it also promised that Windows 7 would be able to handle long file names. I honestly didn't know we were limited before, but I guess this isn't a bad thing.
Long file names.
This is a little synchronization tool that lets you keep files in sync across multiple computers when transferring files by floppy. I don't have any other computers with a floppy drive, so couldn't test it out, but I guess this would be a useful tool for the Amish.
The classic Windows Start button is back, and it works pretty much the same as youre used to. You click it, and a list of programs comes up in a branching menu. If you cant figure that out, no amount of Matthew Perry videos will help you.
The venerable old taskbar is back in Windows 7, looking a little retro, but otherwise in good shape. Definitely a If its not broke, don't fix it situation here. Curiously, the useful Quick Launch bar seems to have disappeared. I guess with limited room on the floppies, space had to be made for the popular Microsoft Fax.
I was very disappointed with this. The improvements made to the most recent version of Explorer were one of the bright points of the whole Vista debacle. The version on display here in Windows 7 is remarkably spartan, lacking many features users look for, like thumbnail previews or frequently used shortcuts. I think Microsoft definitely crapped the bed on this one.
I was very impressed here. To test performance, I ran a stress test consisting of a word document, two Internet Explorer windows and Minesweeper. Everything worked pretty smoothly.
Terrible. Possibly related to the previously mentioned hardware difficulties, I found stability to be a real issue with Windows 7. Crashes were frequent, including Blue Screens of Death. Error messages were cryptic and meaningless to me -- see below.
In general I was highly disappointed with Windows 7. Although performance has improved since Vista, major features appear to have been lopped off the OS to meet these performance marks. Additionally, the hardware incompatibility and stability issues that have long plagued Microsoft OS releases appear to back in full force. Unless you're one of those deviants who always has to have the latest OS, or have very specialized faxing needs, Id strongly recommend avoiding Windows 7 until at least the first Service Pack is released.